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July 17, 1862, which authorized the President to employ, in any military or naval service for which they might be found competent, persons of African descent.
One of the most important acts of the session was that which provided for the creation of a national force by enrolling and drafting the militia of the whole countryeach State being required to contribute its quota in the ratio of its population, and the whole force, when raised, to be under the control of the President. Some measure of the kind seemed to have been rendered absolutely necessary by the revival of party spirit throughout the loyal States, and by the active and effective efforts made by the Democratic party, emboldened by the results of the fall elections of 1862, to discourage and prevent volunteering. So successful had they been in this work, that the Government seemed likely to fail in its efforts to raise men for another campaign; and it was to avert this threatening evil that the bill in question was brought forward for the action of Congress. It encountered a violent resistance from the opposition party, and especially from those members whose sympathies with the secessionists were the most distinctly marked. But after the rejection of numerous amendments, more or less affecting its character and force, it was passed in the Senate, and taken up on the 23d of February in the House, where it encountered a similar ordeal. It contained various provisions for exempting from service persons upon whom others were most directly and entirely dependent for support—such as the only son of a widow, the only son of aged and infirm parents who relied upon him for a maintenance, &c. It allowed drafted persons to procure substitutes; and, to cover the cases in which the prices of substitutes might become exorbitant, it also provided that upon payment of three hundred dollars the Government itself would procure a substitute, and release the person drafted from service. The bill was passed in the House, with some amendments, by a vote of 115 to 49; and the amendments being concurred in by the Senate, the bill became a law. One section of this act required the President to issue
a proclamation offering an amnesty to deserters, and he accordingly issued it, in the following words :
By the President of the United States of America.
Executive Mansion, Washington, March 10, 1663.
In pursuance of the twenty-sixth section of the act of Congress entitled "An Act for enrolling and calling out the National Forces, and for other purposes," approved on the third of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, I, Abraham Lincoln, President, and commanderin-chief of the army and navy of the United States, do hereby order and command that all soldiers enlisted or drafted into the service of the United States, now absent from their regiments without leave, shall forthwith return to their respective regiments; and I do hereby declare and proclaim that all soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave, who shall, on or before the first day of April, 1863, report themselves at any rendezvous designated by the General Orders of the War Department, No. 58, hereto annexed, may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters, and punished as the law provides.
And whereas evil-disposed and disloyal persons, at sundry places, have enticed and procured soldiers to desert and absent themselves from their regiments, thereby weakening the strength of the armies, and prolonging the war, giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and cruelly exposing the gallant and faithful soldiers remaining in the ranks to increased hardships and dangers:
I do therefore call upon all patriotic and faithful citizens to oppose and resist the aforementioned dangerous and treasonable crimes, and aid in restoring to their regiments all soldiers absent without leave, and assist in the execution of the act of Congress for "Enrolling and calling out tho National Forces, and for other purposes," and to support the proper authorities in the prosecution and punishment of offenders against said act, and aid in suppressing the insurrection and the rebellion.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand.
Done at the City of Washington, this tenth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
By the President:
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
The finances of the country enlisted a good deal of attention during this session. It was necessary to pro
vide in some way for the expenses of the war, and also for a currency; and two bills were accordingly introduced at an early stage of the session relating to these two subjects. The Financial Bill, as finally passed by both Houses, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to borrow and issue bonds for nine hundred millions of dollars, at not more than six per cent. interest, and payable at a time not less than ten nor more than forty years. It also authorized the Secretary to issue treasury notes to the amount of four hundred millions of dollars, bearing interest, and also notes not bearing interest to the amount of one hundred and fifty millions of dollars. While this bill was pending, a joint resolution was passed by both Houses, authorizing the issuing of treasury notes to the amount of one hundred millions of dollars, to meet the immediate wants of the soldiers and sailors in the service.
The President announced that he had signed this resolution, in the following
To the Senate and House of Representatives :
I have signed the joint resolution to provide for the immediate payment of the army and navy of the United States, passed by the House of Representatives on the 14th, and by the Senate on the 15th inst. The joint resolution is a simple authority, amounting, however, under the existing circumstances, to a direction to the Secretary of the Treasury to make an additional issue of one hundred millions of dollars in United States notes, if so much money is needed, for the payment of the army and navy. My approval is given in order that every possible facility may be afforded for the prompt discharge of all arrears of pay due to our soldiers and our sailors.
While giving this approval, however, I think it my duty to express my sincere regret that it has been found necessary to authorize so large an additional issue of United States notes, when this circulation, and that of the suspended banks together, have become already so redundant as to increase prices beyond real values, thereby augmenting the cost of living, to the injury of labor, and the cost of supplies-to the injury of the whole country. It seems very plain that continued issues of United States notes, without any check to the issues of suspended banks, and without adequate provision for the raising of money by loans, and for funding the issues, so as to keep them within due limits, must soon produce disastrous conse
quences; and this matter appears to me so important that I feel bound to avail myself of this occasion to ask the special attention of Congress to it. That Congress has power to regulate the currency of the country can hardly admit of doubt, and that a judicious measure to prevent the deterioration of this currency, by a reasonable taxation of bank circulation or otherwise, is needed, seems equally clear. Independently of this general consideration, it would be unjust to the people at large to exempt banks enjoying the special privilege of circulation, from their just proportion of the public burdens.
In order to raise money by way of loans most easily and cheaply, it is clearly necessary to give every possible support to the public credit. To that end, a uniform currency, in which taxes, subscriptions, loans, and all other ordinary public dues may be paid, is almost if not quite indispensable. Such a currency can be furnished by banking associations authorized under a general act of Congress, as suggested in my message at the beginning of the present session. The securing of this circulation by the pledge of the United States bonds, as herein suggested, would still further facilitate loans, by increasing the present and causing a future demand for such bonds.
In view of the actual financial embarrassments of the Government, and of the greater embarrassment sure to come if the necessary means of relief be not afforded, I feel that I should not perform my duty by a simple announcement of my approval of the joint resolution, which proposes relief only by increasing the circulation, without expressing my earnest desire that measures, such in substance as that I have just referred to, may receive the carly sanction of Congress. By such measures, in my opinion, will payment be most certainly secured, not only to the army and navy, but to all honest creditors of the Government, and satisfactory provision made for future deinands on the Treasury.
The second bill-that to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof, was passed in the Senate-ayes twenty-three, noes twenty-one; and in the House, ayes seventy-eight, noes sixty-four — under the twofold conviction that so long as the war continued the country must have a large supply of paper money, and that it was also highly desirable that this money should be national in its character, and rest on the faith of the Government as its security.
Another act of importance, passed by Congress at this session, was the admission of West Virginia into the Union. The Constitution of the United States declares
that no new State shall be formed within the jurisdiction of any State without the consent of the legislature of the State concerned, as well as of the Congress. The main question on which the admission of the new State turned, therefore, was whether that State had been formed with the consent of the Legislature of Virginia. The facts of the case were these: In the winter of 1860–61, the Legislature of Virginia, convened in extra session, had called a convention, to be held on the 14th of February, 1861, at Richmond, to decide on the question of secession. A vote was also to be taken, when the delegates to this convention should be elected, to decide whether an ordinance of secession, if passed by the convention, should be referred back to the people; and this was decided in the affirmative, by a majority of nearly sixty thousand. The convention met, and an ordinance of secession was passed, and referred to the people, at an election to be held on the fourth Tuesday of May. Without waiting for this vote, the authorities of the State levied war against the United States, joined the Rebel Confederacy, and invited the Confederate armies to occupy portions of their territory. A convention of nearly five hundred delegates, chosen in Western Virginia under a popular call, met early in May, declared the ordinance of secession null and void, and called another convention of delegates from all the counties of Virginia, to be held at Wheeling, on the 11th of June, in case the secession ordinance should be ratified by the popular vote. It was so ratified, and the convention met. It proceeded on the assumption that the officers of the old Government of the State had vacated their offices by joining the rebellion; and it accordingly proceeded to fill them, and to reorganize the Government of the whole State. On the 20th of August the convention passed an ordinance to "provide for the formation of a new State out of a portion of the territory of this State." Under that ordinance, delegates were elected to a convention which met at Wheeling, November 26th, and proceeded to draft a Constitution for the State of West Virginia, as the new State was named, which