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THE NEW JERSEY ADDRESS.
diciary and committed it to the people in their sovereign capacity. It degraded the Nation by proclaiming to the world that no confidence could be placed in its honesty or morality. It appealed to the fears of the public creditor by publishing a libel on the American people and by fixing it forever in the American Constitution as a stigma on the present generation that there must be a constitutional guard against the repudiation of the public debt. It enlarged the judicial power of the United States so as to bring every law passed by the State within the jurisdiction of a federal tribunal. It made a new apportionment of representation in national councils for no other reason than to secure to a political faction the votes of a servile and ignorant race. It set up a standard of suffrage dependent upon citizenship, age, inhabitancy and manhood, and any interference whatever by a State imposing any other reasonable qualifications would cause a reduction of the State's representation. The section on impartial suffrage was clearly intended to transfer to Congress the whole control of the right to vote, and to deprive the State of a free representation by destroying the power of regulating the suffrage within its own limits.1
On the thirtieth of March, the joint resolutions were presented to the House of Representatives by a New Jersey member. Elihu B. Washburn, of Illinois, immediately moved that they be returned by the Speaker of the House to the member who presented them; that their title only should be referred to in the Journal and the Congressional Globe, and further, that the House deny the constitutional right of any State legislature to withdraw its assent to the amendment. The rules were suspended and
1 Acts of the 92d Legislature of the State of New Jersey and the 24th in the new constitution, 1868, pp. 1125-1131.
THE OREGON PROTEST.
Washburn's resolution was carried by a two-thirds vote. Both Ohio and New Jersey were included in the joint resolution of Congress in the list of ratifying States, and their acts withdrawing their assent were treated as null and void.
There was one more case of withdrawal, though long after the Secretary's proclamation that the amendment had become a part of the Constitution. Oregon had ratified in September, 1866.2 On the fifteenth of October, two years later, it withdrew its assent.Its reasons were partly local and partly general, but were, in truth, because the political organization of the State legislature had changed and the Democrats were in the majority. The legislature now declared that the ratification, in 1866, had been effected by the votes of two.members who were illegally and fraudulently returned, and that three days after its adoption the two members, whose votes had secured it, had been declared not entitled to their seats, and that, on the same day the two duly elected members had entered their protest on the Journal of the House, declaring that if they had not been excluded from their seats they would have voted against the amendment and thereby defeated its adoption.
But this was not all. The newly constituted bodies avowing themselves to be the legislatures of six of the southern States were created by a military despotism against
180 to 17; not voting, 92. Congressional Globe, March 30, 1868, pp. 2225-2226.
2 In the Senate, September 14, 13 to 9; in the House, September 19, 25 to 21.
3 In the House, for rescinding, 26; against, 18; in the Senate, October 5th, for rescinding, 13; against, 19.
4 Thomas H. Brentz and M. M. McKean, of Grant County. B J. M. McCoy and G. Knisley.
& Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.
THE OREGON PROTEST.
the will of the legal voters, under the so-called reconstruction acts of Congress; this was usurpation, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void; and consequently, these bodies could not legally ratify the amendment on behalf of the States, which they pretended to represent, nor affect the rights of the other States of the Union. For these reasons, and especially on account of the fraudulent character of the former vote in the Oregon House, the action of that body in ratifying the amendment did not express the will of the House as it then stood, after being purged of its illegal members. The legislature, therefore, now rescinded the act of ratification and refused the assent of the State to the proposed article. Any amendment to the Constitution on the subject of representation should be proposed to the States by a Congress in which all were represented, or by a convention of all the States, where each could be heard in proposing amendments as well as, subsequently, in ratifying them."
Under the joint resolution of Congress, however, this action of the Oregon legislature was wholly without effect.2
1 See the Oregon resolution of withdrawal in Miscellaneous Document No. 12, House of Representatives, 40th Congress, Third Session. They were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, December 14, 1868.
2 On the 8th of December, 1868, Resolutions of the Oregon Legislature demanded the resignation of the two United States Senators from the State, George H. Williams and Henry W. Corbett, because of their support of the Reconstruction Measures, were read in the House of Representatives on demand of Fernando Wood of New York. Mr. Washburn immediately offered a resolution that the paper “be returned to the presiding officers of both Houses of the Oregon Legislature, the same being scandalous, impertinent and indecorous,” which, in spite of the protest of Mr. Wood that Oregon was a sovereign and loyal State, was carried by a vote of 126 to 35. See Globe, Third Session, 40th Congress, Part 1, pp. 15-16.
It showed, however, as did the withdrawals of Ohio and New Jersey, that there as a deep undercurrent of opposition in the northern States to the extension of the suffrage to the negro. Undoubtedly had Congress ventured to prescribe the same conditions of ratification of the amendment in the northern as in the southern States, that each should revise its constitution and allow the negro to vote on equal terms with the white man, the amendment would never have become a part of the Constitution.
Of the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment the most conspicuous and unflinchingly devoted to its adoption, and to the general welfare of the race for whose benefit it was primarily intended, was Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania. No other member of Congress, unless it be Lyman Trumbull, a Senator from Illinois, was more closely identified with the whole policy of Congress formulated in the Reconstruction Acts and culminating now in the changed Constitution. Certainly no member of the House divided authority with Thaddeus Stevens. He dominated its proceedings throughout the Reconstruction period. Yet at this time he had passed the time of life when most men are glad to retire to well-earned repose. If Lincoln was the Moses of the African race in America, Thaddeus Stevens was its Joshua. He fought its battles with terrible earnestness and routed its foes in hopeless defeat. To him the negro was the helpless ward of the Nation and he guarded his interests with a fatherly watchfulness which never slumbered. He bore the wearisome details and vexations of congressional life with the endurance of the granite hills of his native Vermont.
Though the Father of the House in years, his tireless energy exhausted its youngest members; and though a cripple and in broken health, he was never known to be absent from duty, whether in committee or as the leader
of the House. He clung to its leadership tenaciously. Conscious that his life was drawing swiftly to a close, he was carried to the sessions, daily, in his chair, from which by the courtesy of the House, he seldom arose, though participating with virile vigor in its work. In the long struggle which culminated in the impeachment of President Johnson, it was the irresistible leadership of Thaddeus Stevens that gave power and coherence to the whole movement. He it was, who, on that Tuesday morning in February, entered the Senate Chamber, and in the name of the House of Representatives and of the American people impeached Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors in office;1 and it was he, who on the part of the House managed the impeachment throughout and was most disappointed at the President's acquittal.2
Throughout the bitter struggle over the return of the southern States to the Union, his lance was never at rest. He knew nothing of compromises; all his measures were radical and as his opponents believed, revolutionary. With his death, which occurred just two weeks after the Fourteenth Amendment became a part of the supreme law of the land, there vanished from Congress the most dom
1 Globe, February 25, 1868, pp. 1405, 1421.
2 The last lengthy speech of his life was his address to the Senate as one of the managers of the impeachment on behalf of the House, April 27, 1868. He read a portion of his argument standing at the Secretary's desk, but after proceeding a few minutes, being too feeble to stand, he obtained permission to take a seat. He read nearly half from his chair, when, his voice becoming too weak to be heard, he handed his manuscript to General Benjamin F. Butler, also one of the managers, who concluded the reading. Supplement to the Congressional Globe, Trial of the President, Second Session, 40th Congress, 1868; pp. 320-324.