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But waiving all this, what had the republicans actually done? Was the election of Abraham Lincoln their offence ? No. Gov. Seymour tells us in this very message that Mr. Lincoln was constitutionally elected-and he is the last Governor in this country or any other to question a right secured by that instrument.
Was it the so-called agitation of the slavery question ? I might reply that republicans were only a portion of those engaged in this agitation—that slavery was aggressive-that its ad vocates, North and South, made it their constant theme everywhere and upon all occasions—but I cannot stop for this. I wish merely to inquire whether any man will say that the discussion of slavery at the North is just cause for rebellion at the South ?
And above all, can Gov. Seymour, who in this same message so emphatically demands free discussion, who so solemnly and almost threateningly declares that “there must be no attempt to put down the full expression of public opinion", who is so tender in regard to constitutional rights that he declares, in substance and effect, that the general government shall not, in time of war, arrest a traitor in this State without due process of law-will he say that this constitutional right of free discussion, when exercised by republicans, is just cause for war on the part of the South !
But perhaps I shall be told that the Governor in this proposition did not refer to the election of Mr Lincoln, nor yet to the agitation of the slavery question. I know that there are no specifications, that this monstrous charge is wrapped in "
glittering generalities,” but if he did not mean these things, what did he mean? The only approach to definiteness is the assertion that " we are to look for the causes of this war in a pervading disregard of the obligation of laws and constitutions; in disrespect for constituted authorities; and above all in the local prejudices which have grown up” in certain quarters which he names. I am compelled to guess even here at the meaning. I presume, however, that personal liberty bills and opposition to the fugitive slave law, are referred to in the first part of the sentence.
It is no part of my purpose to defend these bills or that opposition. But will any sane man deliberately assert that these things caused the war? It would be easy, if there were time, to show that the rebellion would just as certainly have come, if no liberty bill had ever been enacted, and if every fugitive slave had been seized, carried back and presented by us on our knees, to his master. I have already shown that this rebellion was caused by the unbridled ambition of the conspirators and nothing else.
But this subject of liberty bills tempts me to digress a moment and make an inquiry. Was it not the object of these bills to prevent the abduction of citizens and freemen and the “ carrying of them many hundred miles to distant prisons in other states or territories ?" And is there nct a striking analogy between the purpose of these acts, and the purpose of the Governor of this state, expressed in this message, to prevent
the military arrest and abduction of citizens of this state ?
But I must pass on to the second proposition of the Governor embodied in the paragraph I am considering, viz. : that the northern authors of This war (meaning the Republicans) are equally guilty with the rebels for the ruin wrought.
Sir, I shall not trust myself to characterize this proposition as it deserves. As Webster said of Massachusetts—there it is, behold it and judge for yourselves. I would not exhibit “disrespect for constituted authorities," for that, we are told, was one of the causes of this war-but I will ask if there be a man here or elsewhere who will defend this proposition ! I will only add, that it is a cruel imputation upon at least one-half the people of the northern states who never conceived a treasonable design or spoke a treasonable word-who never found an excuse for standing aloof when their country was in danger, and who have freely devoted their lives and fortunes to the work of putting down this rebellion,
And now, sir, a word in regard to the third proposition contained in this paragraph, viz. : that these authors of the war, north and southmeaning the rebels of the south and the Repub. licans of the north-alike insist that this war was caused by an unavoidable contest about slavery.
It is not of much consequence, but this proposition is not true. It is not true as to the position of the rebels even-but I shall not stop to discuss that. As respects the Republicans, I deny emphatically that they have ever said any such thing. They did say that the subject of slavery was unnecessarily and wantonly forced upon the country by the unceasing and arrogant demands of the slave power. But they have never said that this controversy was the cause of the war.
On the contrary, they have always insisted, and they now insist, that this controversy had nothing to do with the war-that the slave power, uninfluenced by any real or imaginary provocation, but in-tigated solely by ambition and the devil, inaugurated this rebellion.
If any man desires to state that an unavoidable contest about slavery was the cause of the war, let him do so as an original proposition and upon his own responsiblity—but no man has a right to state it as a proposition of the Republicans, to give himself an opportunity to refute it.
If the allegation had been that Republicans insist that slavery-not the controversy about it-but that slavery itself was the cause of the war, it would have been substantially correct. We have said that. And what we mean by it is, that this unholy ambition of which I have spoken, and which inaugurated hostilities, is born of and is sustained by slavery--that this institution, of its own inherent corruption, breeds traitors to a government and constitution which secure equal rights to all.
Again, the Governor says that “the spirit of dis obedience has sapped the foundation of municipal, state and national authority in every part of our land.” As is usual in the message, this
statement makes no distinction between rebellion in the South and disorderly conduct in the North. The proposition seems to be that this spirit of disobedience, uniform in character and development, exists everywhere in our country. On the Rappahannock and the Hudson-at Vicksburgh and in New York-in South Carolina and in Massachusetts. That several states have disobeyed the national authority and taken up arms against it, thus causing the war, is very certain ; but why continually mix together, in this bewildering way, the people who are fighting the government and the people who are not? But no matter. This rebuke of the spirit of disobedience to lawful authority, is welltimed. There have been recent exhibitions of law. lessness here in the loyal states, that may well excite the alarm of every good citizen. It is but a few months ago, that an ex-mayor of New York proposed to revolutionize that city and and make it an independent power! And that man, by the way, has just been elected a member of Congress. It is bat a few weeks since the Legislature of Pennsylvania was surrounded by a mob to overawe and control the action of that body. It is only yesterday that a similar mok gathered in your Assembly Chamber for a similar purpose. Upon the floor of your own Legislature threats were made that a certain candidate for speaker should never take his seat, if elected. There are now persons and journals among us, whose ceaseless business it seems to be to stir up a revolution against the general government. If this Jacobinical spirit be not put down, and that speedily, we shall not only lose our national government but our state government also. Not only will the Federal Constitution be destroyed, but our state laws and institutions will disappear with it. I rejoice, therefore, to find this condemnation of disobedience and lawlessness in the message, and I pray that His Excellency will crush it ont in this State, by all the constitutional means he possesses.
But I must hasten on. The Governor next says—that “When the leaders of the insurrection at the extreme South, say that free and slave states cannot exist together in the Union, and when this is echoed from the extreme North by the enemies of our constitution, both parties simply say they cannot because they will not respect the laws and the constitution."
This may be good rhetoric, but it surely is bad logic. Admit the premises, still the conclusion is a non-sequitur. How an abstract opinion that free and slave states cannot exist together, even when expressed, makes a man declare that he is unable to obey the laws and constitution and that he will violate them, is not apparent.
But waiving such criticism, I say that these premises are made up of false assumptions. Put in plain language, the propositions assumed are these:
1. The leaders of the insurrection at the extreme south say that free and slave states cannot exist together in the Union.
2. The people of New England say the same thing.
That this may have been said at the south is very possible, although I do not remember ever to have seen any such remark in any defence of the rebellion. The rebels have said from the first, and now say that they will not remain in the Union, not that they cannot. They have declared that they will not respect the laws and constitution, not that such obedience is impossible.
But however this may be, I deny that the people of New England have ever said that free and slave states could not exist together in the Union. Whether this may or may not have been said by that close corporation, the abolitionists of New England, I neither know nor
For it is entirely immaterial for the purposes of my argument, whether they have or not. We are looking for the causes of this war. And no one will pretend that the sayings or doings of this small body of men were of the least political consequence. And, as I have before said, Gov. Seymour does not refer to them. He means New England, when he designates the extreme North, and when he speaks of the enemies of the Constitution at the extreme North, he means the people of New England, except that very small and select circle of Yankees who agree with him in politics.
I repeat, sir, the people of New England have never said that free and slave states could not ex. ist together in the Union. On the contrary, they and the republicans of the whole North have alike insisted that free and slave states could exist together in the Union-nay, that such a connection could and should be entirely harmonius, and that this would be so if the slave states would obey the Constitution and content themselves with the rights guarantied by that instrument,
But I shall be asked if republicans have not said that there is an irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery. Yes. But that is a very different thing from saying that free and slave states cannot exist together in the Union. To illustrate I may say that there is an irrepressible conflict between capital and labor, but will any one contend that this is equivalent to saying that capital and labor cannot exist together in the same political community ?
Labor may strive to procure the largest possible renumeration for the smallest possible amount of service, and capital may strive to obtain the greatest possible amount of service for the least possible amount of compensation, and yet capital and labor always have and always will exist together.
And, sir, this irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery may go on, and never furnish a justifiable cause for a pro-slavery war, any more than the eternal conflict between capi. tal and labor furnishes cause for an agrarian war.
When we say that there is an irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery, we simply recognize a fact which now exists and which always has existed. We do not say that it should be or that it should not be. There it is, whether we will or not. It springs from the nature of slavery and the constitution
of the human mind as framed by its creator. supported,” and that “all constitutional demands And he who says that it shall be put down, (was it worth while to suppose that there would imitates the royal Canute when he ordered the be any other ?) of the government, must be waves of the ocean not to touch his feet-to promptly responded to." But lest these interlohorrow an illustration used by the Senator from cutory remarks should be misunderstood, we the Third. And I repeat the denial, that the have page after page of misrepresentation and recognition of this fact, says or implies, either denunciation, of at least, one-half the people of that free and slave states cannot exist together, the Northern states; asserting among other or that we cannot, or that we will not obey the things, that they are as much authors of this laws and constitution.
war as the rebels then selves, and that they are But I shall be again asked, if Republicans have jointly responsible with them for all the ruin not said that the present relation of free and
wrought.” We are told that the President of slave states could not always continue, and that the United States, honest to a proverb, and the the states would ultimately become all slave or
least ambitious of men, has usurped more than all free. Yes, some of them have expressed this
regal powers, and without the shadow of an exopinion, or rather made this prediction, for it is
cuse, has trampled the federal constitution and simply a prediction; but this also is a very diffe
the rights of sovereign states beneath his feet. rent thing from saying that free and slave states
We have also an elaborate argument to show, cannot exist together in the Union. Vay, this
that one section of the loyal states should array opinion or prediction, call it what you will, nec
itself against another; and to cap the climax, essarily supposes the exact contrary, viz.: that we have the positive assurance that we cannot they will remain together in the Union until this
subdue this rebellion, from which results the irrepressible conflict shall have triumphed on the necessary inference that our military defence one side or the other, until freedom or slavery
ought to cease. shall have overshadowed and absorbed the other, But sir, I am wandering. The expression is and the whole Union thus become alike in institu- that “the war should have been averted." Let tions and homogeneous in policy. It expresses us examine this a little more critically, for it is the opinion that this irrepressible conflict will another peculiarity of the Governor to sometimes ultimately produce this result. It does not say insinuate offensive charges rather than make or imply that the free and slave states cannnot, them, and to cover up a fallacy with plausible in the mean time, exist together. Neither does words--as a pill is coated with sugar, that it it say or imply, that those who hold this opinion may be swallowed without betraying its nauseous intend to disobey the laws and constitution. qualities.
Again, the Governor says that “this war should Observe then, it is not said that the war should have been averted.” I would not pause over this never have been inaugurated or commenced, brief sentence were it not to call attention to the which would have thrown the blame upon the peculiar manner in which Governor Seymour scoundrels who causelessly took up arms, but the speaks of the War throughout the m ssage. carefully conned and deliberately framed expresPossessing great powers of denunciation which sion is : “ The war should have been averted," are freely exercised in this message, he never which casts the blame upon the miserable employs these powers against the rebellion, and Yankees. The war should have been averted; he never charges upon it the unutterable woes it that is, it could have been. There were persons has inflicted. He never strikes a rebel unless he who could have done this. Nobody will undercan couple a Yankee with him, so that the latter stand him here to refer to the rebels. Everyshall receive at least, half the blow. We never body will understand him to say, that the perhear a clear ringing appeal to the people to cease sons who could thus have averted the war were their political quarrels and unite heart and hand the Republicans of the North. He now here tells to put down this infernal rebellion
And yet no us how they could have done this, but he over man in America could this day arouse the North and over again insinuates the charge. to such a pitch of patriotism fervor as might But I shall be told that the Governor means Horatio Seymour. He is the leader of a great, that we could have averted the war by accepting patriotic and triumphant party. Every man of the Crittenden compromise. This is an old stothat party, whose support is worth having, would
ry, and my reply must be very brief. My answer huil with enthusiasm a declaration from him, then is-1st. That this is a mere gratuitous asthat we would never submit to this rebellion,
sumption without a particle of proof to sustain but that we would crush it out. Alas Sir, this
it. If we are to believe the rebels themselves, appeal has not been made. We have instead,
they would have spurned the concession with many patriotic generalities, the most of which
scorn. 2d. That this compromise could not I have quoted. We asked for bread and we have
have averted the war unless it was accepted bereceived a stone. We are informed that defe
fore the war, and that the Democrats of the rence” is due our rulers provided they keep north themselves voted down this identical prowithin the limits of their jurisdiction.
position in Congress, at least twice before the It is ever conceded that " at this moment, the That the respousibility, therefore, of nit fortunes of our country are influenced" — Heaven averting the war by this measure, rests upon save the mark — " are influenced by battles.” We them and not upon the Republicans. That the are told, in as few words as the idea could be ex- making of this concession after the war, would pressed, that “
our armies in the field must be have been a cowardly yielding to violence what
had been deliberately and repeatedly denied to argument.
We now come to the Governor's treatise on State rights, martial law, and military arrests.
To attempt anything like a critical examination of this elaborate argument would consume hours, and I cannot venture to ask such an indulgence from the Senate. I shall, therefore, from necessity, merely glance at these subjects. I would not even do that except to point out what I think is a spirit of bitterness against the general gov. ernment, and an unwarrantable perversion of its purposes.
I concede, sir, that there is much in this argument which is entirely sound. The general proposition that the Federal and State governments are distinct, and that the rights of each must be respected, no one will dispute. The importance of a strict obedience to the constitution cannot be too strongly expressed. That
property and persons shall be secure from unjustifiable seizure and arrest, is a principle we all maintain. There is no difference of opinion between the administration at Washington and the administration at Albany about these things; and yet the whole of this phillipic against the federal administration is built upon the assumption that the officers of the general government deny these fundamental principles.
The position of the administration upon these subjects, as I understand it, is briefly and in substance this :
That the constitution amply provides for its own preservation, and also for the preservation of the government it creates. If it did not, it would be a failure, because inadequate to save even itself. That the destruction of the government is the destruction also of the constitutionand therefore the constitution confers upon the government every power necessary for its own self-preservation. It does not, in the language of this message, leave the government to sume" such powers, but the instrument itself confers them-and consequently that the exercise of such powers, in a proper case, cannot be in violation of, but is in obedience to, the constitution. At a moment, then, when a gigantic rebellion springs, ready armed, upon the government, it is not only authorized, but commanded, to use every means necessary to put down the insurrection and save itself. And in such an extremity, every means allowed by the laws of war which will strengthen the government and weaken the enemy in the conflict, may properly be said to be necessary.
Whether a particular means employed be or be not necessary, is not a question of constitutional law, therefore, but a question of fact, to be determined like any other question of fact. But to ask whether the government has a right to use a means conceded to be necessary to put down a rebellion, is do question at all-it is simply nonsense. I say, then, that the government, in proclaiming martial law and arresting persons for treasonable otfences, has designed to act in obedience to the constitution, and not in violation of it. Whether it has misjudged or not in regard to this necessity in particular instances,
is entirely another thing. And I insist that the only way to test the constitutionality of any particular act of this kind, is to determine whether or not it was necessary--or in other language, whether it was calculated to aid the government in suppressing the rebellion. If it was thus necessary, then it was constitutional—if it was not, then it was unconstitutional. In my judgment, this is the beginning and the end of all legitimate inquiry upon the subject. Dissertations, therefore, upon the civil powers of the President, upon the constitutional guaranties of life, liberty and property, and upon the rights of the States, have no application to the question. Nobody claims that the President can do these things in his capacity of Chief Magistrate and in time of peace. His powers as civil executive are then limited by the restraints imposed upon him, as such, by the express language of the constitution. But the President is not merely the Chief Magistrate and civil executive of the nation, he is also the Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy-and the same constitution which makes him the one, makes him the other also. The same instrument which defines and restrains his powers in time of peace as civil executive, confers upon him every military power necessary to save the government in tiine of war, as Commander-in-Chief.
The only legitimate question, therefore, as I have before stated, is one of fact-viz: whether there was any necessity for the acts complained of-or in other words, whether these acts would aid the government in putting down the rebellion. This is an open question, undoubtedlyin regard to which men may differ as widely as the poles.
As respects military arrests, I think the government had a constitutional right to make them. And in addition to this, I must differ entirely from the Senator from the Third, by atlirming that the people themselves clamorously demanded these arrests. So rapidly have momentous events rolled over us since this war began, that we sometimes forget the situation of affairs and the state of public opinion, even a few months ago. If we will go back to the outbreak of this rebellion, and when our people were making their preparations to resist it, we shall call to mind a small class of persons whose atrocious language and conduct made the blood of every honest man boil with indignation-men who declared in our streets that our armies, composed of our own sons and brothers, ought to perish--who did all they could to prevent enlistments—who said that if they fought at all they would fight for the South-who sneered and taunted when our soldiers were beaten-and who even threatened to inaugurate civil war here at home.
In the then temper of the public mind, such language and conduct could not be endured. With almost entire unanimity the people called upon the Government to arrest these traitors and prevent their doing further mischief. In response to this demand, and to stop the spread of treason at a moment of imminent peril, the government did order the arrest of a few of the noisiest and worst of these men. And yet it is
this which Governor Seymour pronounces & “high crime." It is by these arrests, made under such circumstances, that the general government “has treated this loyal state, its laws, its courts and its officers, with marked and public contempt, and violated its social order and sacred rights,” according to Gov. Seymour, and that “& department at Washington insulted our people and invaded our rights'—"and-he assures us-against these wrongs and outrages the people of the State of New York at its late election solemnly protested."
Sir, this language is extraordinary, to say the least. I have already shewn that the constitution warranted military arrests at a time of such peril, and that the people themselves demanded them. As respects the late election, I concede that every man in the State who had been, or who ought to have been arrested, voted for Governor Seymour, and no doubt, protested with all his might against all these arrests. I concede that many good and patriotic men of both parties, doubted the policy of this measure—that some insisted that Government had no right to make them at all, and that no body justified the abuse of this power which was seen in a few instances. But when all is said, I deny that the majority even of those who voted the democratic ticket considered their rights invaded or themselves insulted, because the government, in a few instances, had exercised the power to make military arrests. Why, Sir, some of these very men had been a short time before as clamorous as any body for these arrests. This kind of deduction from the results of the late political campaign is as preposterous as it would be for me to say, that the people of this State, at the late election, declared themselves in favor of the rebellion, because every sympathiser with the South in the state voted the democratic ticket.
No doubt instances of improper arrests can be cited. Unfortunately, it is not possible for the most vigilant and conscientious government to perform a duty like this with unerring wisdom, any more than it can carry on a gigantic war without inflicting misery upon many innocent persons. These errors, mistakes and uninteniional injuries, are the inevitable consequences of a state of rebellion.
I know, Sir, that the right of the meanest to the protection of law, has been the theme of some of the noblest eloquence ever uttered by man. I never read or hear a defence of this sacred principle without deep emotion. No man has a profounder conviction of its truth than I have, and no man shall maintain it with greater zoal than myself. But in the name of our common country ready to perish, shall this great truth be dragged from its high eminence, and employed in the work of stirring up the people against the government at an hour like this?
And now, Sir, having said thus much in defense of the motives and objects of the government in making these arrests, allow me to add, that I now regret, and have always regretted, that arrests were ever made in New York or in any state similarly situated. I have never doubted the right, as I have said, but it was apparent from the first
that the subjects of it, although temporarily silenced, would afterwards form themselves into
band of martyrs and thereby have increased power of evil, and at some future time, too, of perhaps greater danger. It was certain, also, that politicians would not hesitate to use a matter so easily perverted, and that it would be employed by them as a means of attack upon the administration. In short, I feared that it would be used just as I find it used in this message.
I must pass without examination & great many assertions and conclusions upon this subject of martial law and military arrests. I cannot stop to consider his assertion, repeated over and over again in various forms of language, that the President has exercised more than regal powergthat he has assumed the right to declare war and then extinguish the state and national constitutions—that this is not claimed to be done “by reason of a necessity which overleaps for a time all restraint and which is justified by a great exigency," but that it is claimed that his military power exalts him above his civil and constitutional rightsthat the President and his friends hold that there is no sanctity in the Constitution, and that it has no authority to keep the executive within its restraints. There is not one word of truth in all this, from beginning to end. It is bold assumption, transparent fallacy and outrageous abuse o the general government. And it is not original at that. These positions were taken months ago by the leaders of the rebellion, and now wo find them “echoed” at the capitol of the State of New York.
But says the Governor, Washington never declared martial law, during the revolution. have had no time to re-examine the history of that period—but grant that he did not formally declare martial law, did not his army, through the whole course of the war, constantly seize and arrest every active tory that could be found ? Did the cowboys of the Hudson, or spies and informers generally, enjoy the immunity here claimed for their lineal descendants ? Were tories permitted to hurrah for King George, and publish newspapers denouncing the revolution ! Nay, further—in the whole conduct of our fathers, which his Excellency so wisely recommends us to imitate, can there be found the example of a party, or of a true man, that made war upon the government for these military arrests ?
Again, the Governor pronounces the recent proclamation of emancipation to be an unconstitutional attempt, on the part of the President, to carry on thu war, not for the restoration of the Union, but for the abolishment of slavery. He does not use this language, but no one will deny that this is just what he meads. He says the government has abandoned the policy of fighting simply for the restoration of the union, and adopted "the views of the extreme Northern States," by which he means abolition as an end.
After what has already been said on this subject during the progress of this debate, it is not necessary for me to make an elaborate argument in defence of the proclamation. I must however