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evades it m all Iris argument. It is that "the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land." And I go so far as to say that it has been the supreme law of the whole land every minute of time since its inauguration; that there has been no interval or interim during which that Constitution has not been the supreme law of every acre of our country. If then the Constitution be the supreme law, every citizen of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and each of the other Confederate States owed and does owe supreme allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and obedience to the Adjoiinistration charged by the people with the preservation and maintenance of the Constitution and the execution of the laws.
Having settled the point that the territory belongs to us, and that the people who occupy it owe allegiance to our Government, I go on to ask how they are or may be governed under that Constitution.
Territory belonging to the United States and under the dominion of the Constitution is governed in one of two ways, and in time of peace can only be governed in one or the other of those ways. The first is by State Constitutions. When the Constitution of the United States was adopted, there were thirteen States; and under the National Constitution, and in so far as the people of those States had not limited their rights by the adoption of that Constitution, the Constitutions and laws of those States were respectively the government of the territory and people of those States. But there was a large amount of territory, not populous enough to be organized into States; and that was held as territory and governed by the United States. Part of it really had no government at all, because there were no white or civilized settlers upon it; but, as the column of settlement and civilization advanced, so did the Government of the United States, by the organization of territorial governments.
Thus Congress would lay off districts large enough for a State, sometimes large enough for three or four States; and organize it as a territory; and provide that the President should appoint a Governor, a Secretary, a Judge, and certain other officers. Certain restrictions were put on the power of the people of the territory, but they were invested with the right to elect a local legislature, so that they might begin at once to make their own roads, provide for their own poor, and attend to many elementary branches of home government. Congress, by an unvarying and unbending series of enactments, beginning with Jefferson's proviso, which secured freedom to the immense regions north and west of the Ohio (first adopted in 1787 by the Congress of the Old Confederacy, and re-enacted in 1789 by the National Congress), renewed in the bill for the organization of the territory of Louisiana in 1804, and terminating with the territory of Oregon in 1848, exercised without dispute the right to legislate on the subject of slavery in the territories; and every President, from George Washington down to Millard Fillmore, inclusive, signed one or more territorial bills prohibiting or restricting the right to introduce slaves upon the soil of those territories, or hold them there; the whole policy of our Government having been to promote free labor and restrict slavery, which was regarded as a great wrong within its narrowest constitutional limits.
Now, my friends, the territory embraced by the Confederate States either constitutes States in the Union, or it must be governed as we govern territories ; or being in armed insurrection, it must be governed under and by the war power. I started with the proposition that all those States were States in the Union, that no act of the Government has impaired their rights as States in the Union; and I cited the other evening, and refer you to my printed remarks to find, the appeal of Alexander H. Stephens, the present Vice-President of the Confederacy, to the Convention of Georgia that passed the ordinance of secession, in which he pleaded with the members not to take that fatal step, and averred that, in the whole history of the country, the United States Government had never violated or assailed a single right of any Southern State or man. His voice was not heeded. That Convention and others did take the fatal step which extinguished the institutions and provisions which made Georgia a State of the Union; I say this not now for the first time. On the 3d of May last I had the honor to discuss this question on the floor of Congress; and I propose, instead of making a new argument on the point in question, to read a brief extract from the remarks I then made.
"Sir, a State is not immortal; it has a mortal existence; it has its beginning, its transitions, and may have its end. A State may be killed, a State may commit suicide. The act of God may carry through the portals of death the entire people of a State, and extinguish it by reason of the want of citizenship. A foreign Power may subdue the people of a State, hold and exercise dominion over them and their territory, overthrowing their institutions, and establishing others in accordance with the views of the conqueror, thus destroying the State and reducing the people to the condition of subjects, from which they could only escape by successful revolution, or by the assistance of a people from beyond the limits of their State.
"Sir, I have said a State may commit suicide. A sovereign convention of the people called to consider the propriety of amending, revising, or abolishing the constitution may abolish that constitution, and having proposed no new one adjourn sine die, submitting their work to the people, and if approved by them, the State would cease to exist. It might be succeeded by a monarchy, a despotism, or any other form of government; or its territory might be occupied by a foreign Power, or both people and territory be absorbed by a conterminous foreign nation. This the people of the revolted States have done. They have destroyed the institutions which bound them politically to this Government. They have organized a foreign government, and seek to transfer to it part of our domain."
Gentlemen will oblige me if they will, as my argument proceeds, carry in their minds the fact that the territory is ours, and that the allegiance of every man on it is due to our Government by virtue of the gentleman's first proposition, that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The people of those States have abolished their \State governments. They have, so far as in them lay the power, withdrawn their allegiance from our Government. They no longer send Senators to the United States Senate, or members to the United States House of Eepresentatives. They no longer admit United States Judges, either of the District or of the Supreme Court, to go within their limits and hold court. They have seized our custom-houses, post-offices, arsenals, forts, hospitals, mints, and other property. They have severed all the ligaments that bound them to our Government, and have organized upon our own soil a military government, and made war upon us, first firing upon our flag when it was borne by the Star of the West, and again on the 12th of April, 1861, as it floated over Fort Sumter, when they made open war on 70 United States soldiers who were there to protect the harbor of Charleston against foreign invasion. Are we, by reason of their violent and illegal acts, to surrender half of our country? Because a thief has come into your house and possessed himself of your casket of jewels, and shakes it impudently in your face, are you to acknowledge that it is his? Because a man has knocked you down and taken the watch out of your pocket, and holds it to your ear and says: Ci It ticks as it did when it was yours; but it is now mine," are you quietly to say, "Yes, sir, it is yours?" Or are you to knock him down, if you can, and "repossess" yourself of your property, or if he is too large and too strong for that, is it not your duty to summon the police, have him arrested, regain your property, and prevent him from doing harm to others? Your natural rights justify and require you to protect your property and resist him who would wrest it from you. At the head of our Government is always a President; the office is never vacant; one incumbent holds until his successor is sworn in; the moment the President dies during his official term, the office devolves on the Vice-President. The President of the United States is sworn to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." When these people first stole our land and other property, James Buchanan was President, and was bound by his inaugural oath to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution over all those States. My Democratic friend, Abraham Lincoln was not then in office.
The Confederacy was organized during the term of James Buchanan, and the President and Vice-President of that Confederacy were installed in the month of February preceding the inauguration of President Lincoln. It was Mr. Buchanan, who, being President, apologized to one thief, and said, "Take the casket; I have no power to prevent you." And to another: "You will find it a very good watch; I should like to have it back again; but I have no power to prevent you from taking it. There is no law against it." And thus let the rebels go on in their lawless career which was to result in the greatest war of history.
Mr. Lincoln, in his inaugural, extracts from which you will read in the.reports of the debate, appealed to those who were organizing in opposition to the Government. He told them that he did not want war; he reminded them that he had registered an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution ;" he assured them that, in spite of all they had done, the United States mails should be carried through their territory as theretofore. He urged upon them to consult the "sober second thought," and concluded by saying: "My fellow citizens, the issue of civil war is not with me, but with you." But spite of all this, on the 12th of April, 1861, they made the issue of civil war, and stormed Fort Sumter.
I ask every Democrat present, whether, under these circumstances, the assertion that this is a "negro war," as it was described last night, is not a wicked fabrication. Yes, it is evidently a war to maintain for you and your posterity more than half your country—to maintain for you and your posterity, and the millions of oppressed people of Europe and their posterity, the blessings of our Constitution through all time and over all the broad limits of our grand and heaven-enriched country. For this is the question of the war; whether the Southern Democratic friends of my friend (Mr. Northrop) shall build up a foreign Confederacy on half our empire, or whether the loyal American people will put down the Democratic party North and South, and maintain the unity of their country, and the supremacy of its constitution.
But let me proceed with the argument I was pursuing. At the breaking out of the war the Northern States had, according to the census, about four million white men between the ages of-18 and 45, and the rebellious States had about 1,300,000. This looks as though we ought to have marched right over them. But this statement alone is very delusive. Our four millions of men were not only our fighting power, but they were the bone, sinew, muscle, and energy of our agricultural, commercial and industrial power. Upon them depended the maintenance of the large factories and workshops and smaller establishments, by which our people gain their livelihood, and by the industry and enterprise of which the greatness of our States has been built up. On the other hand, every slave-girl over ten or twelve years of age, and every slave-woman, except for a period of from two to four weeks allowed for a confinement, does a man's work in the field; so that, taking their fighting and their laboring power together, the South were nearly if not quite equal to us. Our girls and boys are in schools; our young men are in colleges; our women d'o no labor in the field, and but little servile labor at any time. But any of you who have been South know that as to the question of hoeing, tending, and picking corn, cotton, and other slave products every girl of twelve years of age and every woman counts as a man. So that, taking the laboring and fighting power together, the two parties were as nearly balanced as belligerent nations often are. The South had the advantage of being on their own soil. Their base of supplies was around their camp, while we had to travel thousands of miles to penetrate distant parts of their country. We had to employ in transportation a great many more than the actual difference in fighting and laboring power between the two sections. They were at New Orleans; we had to go thousands of miles to get there. They were at Yicksburg and Port Hudson; we had to go thousands of miles to get there. They were at Atlanta; Sherman fought nearly a thousand miles to get there, and he now has to protect his long line of communication. So tha^ with regard to the chances of successful war, the rebels at the beginning had greatly the advantage. I saw this, as did many other men; and from the day when the insurgents fired on our flag. I urged our Government to do what I think it ought to have done—issue a proclamation forthwith, offering protection and arms to every loyal Southern man who would come to our flag, and promising employment and wages to the family of every such man. They ought not to have confined it to the red-whiskered men, or to the men with light hair, or to the men with light complexion; they ought to have said to all the men of the South. " We are your Government, come and support your flag. We have arms for you ; and we will protect your families while you fight for the supremacy of the Constitution and the unity of the country." But my friend, and the leaders of his party, went about the country saying to the Democrats and the more "conservative" men, "Abe Lincoln and his friends are getting up a war to make the nigger your equal;" and they inflamed the passions of the people so that the Government did not dare take away from the South its laborers and put arms in their hands.
This was the first great service the Democratic party did the rebellion. They kept the Rebels well supplied with labor, and, during the first eighteen months or two years, threw the whole burden of the war upon the white men of the North. We wanted to make each Southern State furnish without regard to complexion of the man its quota to our army. They said "No; the white men of the North had better die than that we should make soldiers of the negroes." They played upon your passions and the passions of other men in the country, so that the Government did not dare to enfeeble the rebellion by withdrawing its laborers from it. To such appeals, from the mouths of my friend and his companions may be charged more than a hundred thousand graves of Northern youth and men; for if we had taken the negro on the first day of the war, not one-half the number of white soldiers that have been required would have been called to the field.
But was it constitutional, was it legal, thus to take the slaves 'of the South and employ them in forwarding the success of our cause? I turn you to a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, made at the March term, 1863. That tribunal, in deciding the case of the claimants of the schooner Brilliant, etc., vs. the United States, declared that "when the regular course of justice is interrupted by revolt, rebellion, or insurrection, so that the courts of justice cannot be kept open, civil war exists, and hostilities may be prosecuted on the same footing as if those opposing the.Government were foreign enemies invading the land."
Is not "the regular course of justice interrupted" in the rebellious States, "by revolt, rebellion, or insurrection?" Do they permit a United States Judge to sit in any of their courts and administer the laws of the United States? No; and from the time they thus, by their rebellion, obstructed "the regular course of justice," it was, according to this decision, of the Supreme Court of the United States, the duty of our Government to conduct that war "as if those opposing the Government were foreign enemies invading the land." And in the same opinion, that Court held that "all persons residing within this territory" (that of the Confederacy), "whose property maybe used to increase the revenue of the hostile power, are, in this contest, liable to be treated as enemies. * * * Whether property be liable to capture as enemies' property does not in any manner depend upon the personal allegiance of the owner."
In other words, the court decided that the rebels were to be treated as foreign enemies invading our soil, and that it was our right to seize all the property of every citizen of that territory that could be made available for strengthening our enemies.
But the gentleman says we had no right to take their slaves, because it was unconstitutional. I have shown you that they have discarded the Constitution, have trampled and spit upon it, and made war upon those who maintained it. You cannot reject an instrument and yet claim your benefits under it. The Supreme Court has decided that you can take the property of belligerents, and there it stands. No man will deny that slaves digging entrenchments, hauling cannon, furnishing commissary and quartermaster stores, and doing all that the slaves of rebels have done, were property, and property used to aid in carrying on the war. Therefore, under the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, it was not only the right but the duty of the Government to seize that property.
But let not the assertion of this right rest on a single decision of our own court. In the very game case, that court, following every writer on international law from Grotius to Phillimore, decided that the right of one belligerent not only to coerce the other by direct force, but also to cripple his resources by the seizure or destruction of his property, is a necessary result of a state of war. >
Let us, then, come back to the question: Are slaves property? If they are, it is our right by the broad code of international law—it is our right by the express decision of the Supreme Court—to seize that property and prevent the enemy from using it, and to put it to use ourselves to bring the war to an end. I say that slaves are property. But my friend may quibble, and say that slaves are persons and not property, and that the slaveholder owns, under the Constitution, only the right to the slave's labor—that slavery is a debt—that the slave owes his lator and service to his master in return for his food, clothing, and medicine. Yery well, then; I will consider slavery as a debt. I have demonstrated that, if slaves are. properly, we must take such property. I now look at the slave as a person owing a debt.
One of the clearest principles laid down in international law is, that two governments being at war, either'of them may confiscate debts due to citizens of the other. Thus, in Yattel I find perhaps the clearest expression of the principle.
"We have a right," says Yattel (Book 3, sec. 161), "to deprive our enemy of his possessions, of everything which may augment his strength and enable him to make war. This every one endeavors to accomplish in the manner most suitable to him. Whenever we have an opportunity, we seize on the enemy's and convert it to our own use; and thus, besides ■diminishing the enemy's power we augment our own, and obtain at least a partial indemnification or equivalent, either for what constitutes the subject of the war, or for the expenses and losses incurred in its prosecution."
Again, in Book 3, sec. 77, Yattel says :—
"Among the many things belonging to the enemy are likewise incorporeal things—all his rights, claims, and debts."
This principle of the right of a nation to seize the debts due to citizens of another nation with which it is at war is as old as international law itself. That it has been fully recognized by our own courts, I will prove by reading a short extract from the opinion delivered by Chief Justice Marshall in the case of Amity Brown v. The United States, 3 Curtis, 48: "The right of the sovereign to confiscate debts being precisely the same with the right to confiscate property found within the country, the operation of a declaration of war on debts and on other property found within this country must be the same." Justice Story dissented from the opinion of the court in this case, but concurred in this principle in the following language: "41 take upon me to say, that no jurist of reputatioixcan be found who has denied the right of confiscation of enemy's debts."
My competitor is a distinguished lawyer, and he will not peril his reputation by denying any of these positions. Thus you see that it was our duty, in the way of humanity—it was our duty to the white men of the North—it was our duty as a means of shortening the war by crippling the enemy's power, to take their slaves and make soldiers of them; and the only reason that we did not do it earlier was that the Democratic press and Democratic orators inflamed the passions of Northern men against the negro, and cried out that in trying to use him to save the white man we were making a war for the "nigger."
Now Congress did not hurry in the work of employing the negro of the South to assist our cause. It was all too slow in rising to the level of its high duty. It was not until the 27th of July, 1862, that it passed a law for the confiscation of slave property, and at that time it enacted "That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the enemy; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them, and coming under the control of the Government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found, or being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves."
That enactment was passed on the 17th of July, 1862. On the 25th of July, eight days thereafter. President Lincoln issued a proclamation announcing the passage of that act, and warning the rebels of the South, the insurgents engaged in war, that at the end of sixty days that act would be carried into effect, and their slaves would be emancipated. The sixty days rolled round; but ihefiat of freedom did not go forth for three long months and more thereafter. The thunder and lightning that were to make millions free were suspended in the hope that those who had once been our brethren would again resume their allegiance to the Government and bless the land with peace. But on the first of January following, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of his war power, issued a proclamation which, after reciting certain premises, declares as follows :—
"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and Government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred andsixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the day first mentioned above, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:—
"Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city New Orleans, Mississippi Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Yirginia, except the forty-eight counties design nated as West Yirginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if the proclamation were not issued.
"And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves *within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of the said persons.
"And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free, to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend them that, in all cases when allowed they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
"And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States, to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
"And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God."
Who says that that proclamation was wrong? Which man among you all will not say that it was made in pursuance of the law and the judgments of the courts? Which one will not say that it is sanctioned by the code of international law which has grown up through the long centuries? Which of you will deny that it is sanctioned by civilization and by Christianity—that it is in accordance with the great history and the greater hopes of our country? Which of you will deny that, from the hour when the proclamation reached the nations of Europe, the heart of humanity thrilled anew, and over the hills and vales, in the cottages and huts of oppressed Europe, mankind felt that freedom had received a new guarantee, and that America was henceforth, as heretofore,.to be the land of the free and the refuge of the oppressed from all lands? -> ,
[Mr. Northrop followed in a speech of one hour and a half.]
Judge Kelley replied thus :—
My fellow-citizens, I submit to you whether, if a stranger had come into this hall as the gentleman began, not knowing the circumstances of the case, he could have told for which Government he was pleading, the Confederate or that of the United States; or whether he might not well have concluded that a body of the loyal people of the North had been assembled to hear a commissioner from the Confederate Government plead their cause and ask for time. The whole drift of his argument has been against the cause of the country and the Constitution, and in favor of those with whom we are at war.
He asks whether, as I say States can commit suicide, we are marching our armies after "the dead body." Oh no, sir, we are not going after the corpse, but after the broad estate that our revolutionary ancestors left us, and to which our fathers and we have made such splendid additions.
We mean to have every acre of it; and we mean to reconstruct the Union of free States. The gentleman says that he and his party want reconstruction. Yes; but they want it under Southern dictation. We do not want " to hold provinces;" there is no power to do it; but while a foreign foe (made foreign by its own acts and the law of nations) stands in arms against us, we must, as we conquer that territory, hold it under military rule. What the government and the loyal people mean to do is to bring that territory and the people who are on it into subjection to the government to which they owe allegiance; and whenever they lay down their arms, reorganize State governments, elect senators and representatives to the Congress of the United States, allow the United States judges to hold court, and the United . States postmasters and collectors to perform their functions, the war will be at an end. That is what we want.
The gentleman and his party do not want reconstruction. Let me prove this assertion. We have admitted into the Union the State of West Yirginia, containing 48 counties (while Pennsylvania contains but little over 60); and having within her limits nearly half a million of people. The people drove the rebels out of their limits; they elected delegates to a convention ; they adopted a constitution and asked admission into the Union. She was regularly admitted as other States have been. Yet the Democratic party, in their processions, carry flags with 34 stars, because they will not recognize the reconstructed State of West Yirginia by adding the thirty-fifth. When some of the people of that State sent delegates to the