Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

hand in hand together to the consummation of this great object of securing to every human being within the jurisdiction of the republic equal rights before the law, and I preferred to seek for points of agreement between all the departments of Government, rather than to hunt for points of divergence. I have not said any thing in my remarks about reconstruction. I have not attempted to discuss the question whether these States are in the Union or out of the Union, and so much has been said upon that subject that I am almost ready to exclaim with one of old, 'I know not whether they are in the body or'out of the body; God knoweth. It is enough for me to know that the State organizations in several States of the Union have been usurped and overthrown, and that up to the present time no State organization has been inaugurated in either of them which the various departments of Government, or any department of the Government, has recognized as placing the States in full possession of all the constitutional rights pertaining to States in full communion with the Union.

“The Executive has not recognized any one, for he still continues to exercise military jurisdiction and to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in all of them. Congress has not recognized any of them, as we all know; and until Congress and the Executive do recognize them, let us make use of the Freedmen's Bureau, already established, to protect the colored race in their rights; and when these States shall be admitted, and the authority of the Freedmen's Bureau as a court shall cease and determine, as it must when civil authority is fully restored, let us provide, then, by other laws, for protecting all people in their equal civil rights before the law. If we can pass such measures, they receive executive sanction, and it shall be understood that it is the policy of the Government that the rights of the colored men are to be protected by the States if they will, but by the Federal Government if they will not; that at all hazards, and under all circumstances, there shall be impartiality among all classes in civil rights throughout the land. If we can do this, much of the

apprehension and anxiety now existing in the loyal States will be allayed, and a great obstacle to an early restoration of the insurgent States to their constitutional relations in the Union will be removed.

“If the people in the rebellious States can be made to understand that it is the fixed and determined policy of the Government that the colored people shall be protected in their civil rights, they themselves will adopt the necessary measures to protect them; and that will dispense with the Freedmen’s Bureau and all other Federal legislation for their protection. The design of these bills is not, as the Senator from Indiana would have us believe, to consolidate all power in the Federal Government, or to interfere with the domestic regulations of any of the States, except so far as to carry out a constitutional provision which is the supreme law of the land. If the States will not do it, then it is incumbent on Congress to do it. But if the States will do it, then the Freedmen's Bureau will be removed, and the authority proposed to be given by the other bill will have no operation.

“Sir, I trust there may be no occasion long to exercise the authority conferred by this bill. I hope that the people of the rebellious States themselves will conform to the existing condition of things. I do not expect them to change all their opinions and prejudices. I do not expect them to rejoice that they have been discomfited. But they acknowledge that the war is over; they agree that they can no longer contend in arms against the Government; they say they are willing to submit to its authority; they say in their State conventions that slavery shall no more exist among them. With the abolition of slavery should go all the badges of servitude which have been enacted for its maintenance and support. Let them all be abolished. Let the people of the rebellious States now be as zealous and as active in the passage of laws and the inauguration of measures to elevate, develop, and improve the negro as they have hitherto been to enslave and degrade him. Let them do justice and deal fairly with loyal Union men in their midst, and henceforth be themselves loyal, and this Congress will not have adjourned till the States whose inhabitants have been engaged in the rebellion will be restored, to their former position in the Union, and we shall all be moving on in harmony together.”

On the day following the discussion above given, Mr. Cowan moved to amend the first section of the bill so that its operation would be limited to such States “as have lately been in rebellion.” In supporting his amendment, Mr. Cowan remarked: “I have no idea of having this system extended over Pennsylvania. I think that as to the freedmen who make their appearance there, she will

be able to take care of them and provide as well for them as any bureau which can be created here. I wish to confine the operation of this institution to the States which have been lately in rebellion."

To this Mr. Trumbull replied: “The Senator from Pennsylvania will see that the effect of that would be to exclude from the operation of the bureau the State of Kentucky and the State of Delaware, where the slaves have been emancipated by the constitutional amendment. The operation of the bureau will undoubtedly be chiefly confined to the States where slavery existed; but it is a fact which may not be known to the Senator from Pennsylvania, that during this war large numbers of slaves have fled to the Northern States bordering on the slaveholding territory.

“It is not supposed that the bill will have any effect in the State of Pennsylvania or in the State of Illinois, unless it might, perhaps, be at Cairo, where there has been a large number of these refugees congregated, without any means of support; they followed the army there at' different times.

“The provision of the bill in regard to holding courts, and some other provisions, are confined entirely to the rebellious States, and will have no operation in any State which was not in insurrection against this Government. I make this explanation to the Senator from Pennsylvania, and I think he will see the necessity of the bureau going into Kentucky and some of the other States, as much as into any of the Southern rebellious States."

Mr. Guthrie was opposed to the extension of the bill to his State. He said: "I should like to know the peculiar reasons why this bill is to be extended to the State of Kentucky. She has never been in rebellion. Though she has been overrun by rebel armies, and her fields laid waste, she has always had her full quota in the Union armies, and the blood of her sons has marked the fields whereon they have fought. Kentucky does not want and does not ask this relief. The freedmen in Kentucky are a part of our population; and where the old, and lame, and halt, and blind, and infants require care and attention they obtain it from the counties. Our whole organization for the support of the poor, through the agencies of the magistrates in the several counties, is complete.

On the other hand, Mr. Creswell, of Maryland, saw a necessity for the operation of the bill in his State. He said: “I have re

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »