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Title: Charles Sumner; His Complete Works, Volume XI (of 20)
Author: Sumner, Charles
Language: English
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[Illustration: F. T. Stuart, Boston: WENDELL PHILLIPS]

Statesman Edition        VOL. XI



With Introduction by Hon. George Frisbie Hoar


Lee and Shepard

Copyright, 1873 and 1874,
Charles Sumner.

Copyright, 1900,
Lee and Shepard.

Statesman Edition.
Limited to One Thousand Copies.
of Which This Is
No. 565

Norwood Press:
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



    Senate, of the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, February 29,
    1864                                                               1

    THE MISSION TO BELGIUM. Speech in the Senate, on an Amendment
    to the Consular and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, March 15,
    1864                                                              43

    CONSULAR PUPILS. Speech in the Senate, on an Amendment to the
    Consular and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, March 15, 1864        49

    Speech in the Senate, on the Resolutions upon his Death, March
    29, 1864                                                          54

    Senate, on an Amendment to the Bill for a Temporary Government
    of that Territory, March 31 and May 19, 1864                      62

    TO JULY 31, 1801. Report in the Senate, of the Committee on
    Foreign Relations, April 4, 1864                                  70

    COMPENSATION. Speech in the Senate, on the Constitutional
    Amendment abolishing Slavery throughout the United States,
    April 8, 1864                                                    173

    CASTE AND PREJUDICE OF COLOR. Letter to the Young Men’s
    Association of Albany, April 16, 1864                            228

    on a Bill for this Purpose, April 19, 1864                       229

    THE NATIONAL BANKS AND THE CURRENCY. Speeches in the Senate, on
    Amendments to the Bill providing a National Currency, April 27
    and May 5, 1864                                                  245

    BRANCH MINTS AND COINAGE. Speech in the Senate, on the
    Proposition to create a Branch Mint in Oregon, April 29, 1864    263

    REFORM IN THE CIVIL SERVICE. Bill in the Senate, April 30, 1864  278

    COLORED SUFFRAGE IN WASHINGTON. Remarks in the Senate, on Bills
    to amend the City Charter, May 12, 26, 27, 28, 1864              284

    REBEL STATES. Resolution in the Senate, May 27, 1864             296

    NO TAX ON BOOKS. Remarks in the Senate, on Amendment of the
    Internal Revenue Bill, June 2 and 6, 1864                        297

    FREEDOM. Speeches in the Senate, on Bills and Conference
    Reports creating a Bureau of Freedmen, June 8, 14, 15, 1864,
    and February 13, 21, 22, 1865                                    301

    Senate, on the Recognition of Arkansas, June 13, 1864            351

    Senate, on an Amendment to the Tariff Bill, June 16, 1864        376

    NO TAX ON EDUCATION. Remarks in the Senate, on a Proposed Duty
    on Philosophical Instruments for Colleges, June 17, 1864         378

    on an Amendment to the Civil Appropriation Bill, June 24 and
    25, 1864                                                         380

    Speech in the Senate, on an Amendment to the Civil
    Appropriation Bill, June 25, 1864                                389

    ACT OF CONGRESS. Remarks in the Senate, July 1, 1864             397

    POLITICAL SCIENCES. Remarks in the Senate, on a Bill creating
    these Two Academies, July 2, 1864                                401

    Speech in the Senate, on the Resolution of Final Adjournment,
    July 2, 1864                                                     405

    Meeting in Faneuil Hall, September 6, 1864                       414

    Meeting at Faneuil Hall, to ratify the Republican Nominations
    for President and Vice-President, September 28, 1864             418

    PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Speech before the New York Young Men’s
    Republican Union, at Cooper Institute, November 5, 1864          433


FEBRUARY 29, 1864.

    February 8, 1864, on the day of introducing his Amendment of
    the Constitution, declaring that “all persons are equal before
    the law,” Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent obtained,
    leave to bring in a bill to secure equality before the law in
    the courts of the United States, which was read the first and
    second times by unanimous consent, and, on his motion, referred
    to the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen. This was in harmony
    with other efforts on an earlier day.[1] February 29th, he
    reported the bill to the Senate without amendment, accompanied
    by the following report, of which three thousand extra copies
    were ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate. The
    success of this measure appears at a later date.[2]

  The Committee on Slavery and the Treatment of Freedmen, to whom
      was referred Senate Bill (No. 99) entitled “A Bill to secure
      equality before the law in the courts of the United States,”
      have had the same under consideration, and ask leave to report.

Before making a change in our laws, it is important to consider the
nature and extent of what is proposed; especially is this the case, if
the change will be far-reaching in influence. Therefore the Committee
have thought best, in proposing to prohibit all exclusion of colored
testimony in the courts of the United States, to exhibit with some
particularity the considerations bearing on the subject.


Congress has never, in formal words, declared that witnesses in the
courts of the United States shall be incompetent to testify on account
of color. The abuse has arisen indirectly. But it is none the less
fastened upon the national jurisprudence. By Act of July 16, 1862, it
was provided “that the laws of the State in which the court shall be
held shall be the rules of decision as to the competency of witnesses
in the courts of the United States, in trials at Common Law, in Equity,
and Admiralty.”[3] And this rule, thus authoritatively declared, had
been practically recognized by the courts of the United States from
the beginning of the Government. It appears from the Judiciary Act
of 1789, under which the national courts were organized, that jurors
in these courts “shall have the same qualifications as are requisite
for jurors by the laws of the State of which they are citizens”; and
still further, “that the laws of the several States, except where
the Constitution, treaties, or statutes of the United States shall
otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision
in trials at Common Law in the courts of the United States, in cases
where they apply.”[4] Under these injunctions it was very easy, if not
natural, for the national courts to adopt the law of evidence in the
States where they were respectively held; and thus the incapacity of
colored testimony in those States where it prevailed became a rule of
evidence in the national tribunals.

It is plain that such a system made the administration of justice
differ in different States. The same statute might be successfully
administered in a State where there was no exclusion of colored
testimony, and miserably fail in another State where such exclusion
prevailed; and the same judge might be called in one court to admit the
testimony, and in another court to reject it. But the least objection
to this system is its want of uniformity. In lending the sanction of
the United States, even indirectly, to an exclusion founded on color,
all the people have been made parties to injustice.

To appreciate the true character of this proscription, we must repair
to the Slave States, where it is declared, and consider it in the
very language, legislative and judicial, by which it is maintained,
not neglecting the eccentricities of judicial opinion by which it has
been illustrated. From the statement of the rule its consequences will
become apparent. It may be proper afterwards to glance at the associate
examples of history, and also to endeavor to comprehend the reasons on
which the proscription has been vindicated.


The Committee begin with the statutes of the States where this
proscription prevails. Each State will be considered by itself.

(1.) In Delaware the rule assumes its mildest form, yet even there it
is indefensible. It has been expressed by Chief Justice Bayard, who, in
an opinion of the court, said: “On the introduction of Negro Slavery
into this country, it became a settled rule of law that slaves should
not be suffered to give evidence in any matter, civil or criminal,
affecting the rights of a white man.”[5] In this spirit the Revised
Code of Delaware has provided that “to give evidence against any white
person” is one of the “rights of a freeman.”[6] But the rule is thus
applied: “In criminal prosecutions, a free negro, or free mulatto, if
otherwise competent, may testify, if it shall appear to the court that
no competent white witness was present at the time the fact charged
is alleged to have been committed, or that a white witness, being so
present, has since died, or is absent from the State, and cannot be
produced: _Provided_, that no free negro or free mulatto shall be
admitted as a witness to charge a white man with being the father of
a bastard child.”[7] With this exception, the free negro or mulatto
is disqualified as a witness against a white person.[8] But colored
testimony is admissible in a case between colored persons, or against a
colored person where the other party is white.[9]

The subtilties in the application of this rule appear in a decided
case, where one of three accomplices was indicted for kidnapping a
colored boy. The latter was opposed as a witness, on the ground that
a competent white witness, an accomplice who had not been indicted,
might be produced. But the court, considering that the statute was
originally enacted to remedy injustice to free persons of color,
construed it liberally, and admitted the testimony of the colored boy,
on the ground that the commission of an offence by two or more persons
ought not to render a witness incompetent, who would be competent,
if the offence had been committed by only one person. It was further
said, that the statute, when it speaks of a competent white witness,
means not merely his competency in the common sense of the term,
but the sufficiency of his evidence under ordinary circumstances
to produce conviction,--although a jury was directed to acquit the
prisoner, unless part of the accomplice’s testimony was confirmed by
unimpeachable evidence.[10] In another case, where two white witnesses,
not accomplices, were present at an assault, the court at first
excluded the testimony of the colored person; but when it afterwards
appeared that one of them was drunk and the other did not see the whole
transaction, although both knew that a blow was struck, the testimony
of the colored person was admitted.[11]

Still further, it has been declared in Delaware, that, on indictment
of a white man for kidnapping a free colored person, the latter is not
competent to prove his freedom.[12] So, also, in an action against
a stage-coach proprietor for aiding in the escape of a slave, the
admission of the latter that he is slave of the plaintiff cannot be
received.[13] But a free colored person may make oath to his book
of original entries, and thus make it evidence even against a white
person, on the declared ground that “it would be idle [for the law] to
recognize in persons of color the right to hold property, and to obtain
redress in law and equity for injuries to person or property, if the
means of this redress be denied them.”[14]

Prior to the statute originally passed in 1799, where a white person
committed an assault on a colored woman, and there was no third person
present, the latter was held as a witness;[15] but where several white
persons were present, the colored person was held incompetent.[16]

(2.) In Maryland, the Act of 1717, Ch. 13, § 2, provides that “no negro
or mulatto slave, free negro, or mulatto born of a white woman during
his time of servitude by law, or any Indian slave, or free Indian
natives of this or the neighboring provinces, be admitted and received
as good and valid evidence in law, in any matter or thing whatsoever
depending before any court of record, or before any magistrate within
this province, wherein any Christian white person is concerned.” Yet,
nevertheless, according to this same Act, § 3, where other sufficient
evidence is wanting against any negro, in such case the testimony of
any negro may be heard and received in evidence, according to the
discretion of the several courts of record or magistrate before whom
such matter or thing against such negro shall depend, provided such
testimony do not extend to depriving them of life or member.

The same system is pursued in the later Act of 1796, Ch. 67, § 5,
which provides that manumitted slaves shall not be allowed “to give
evidence against any white person,” nor be received “as competent
evidence to manumit any slave petitioning for freedom.” But by Act of
1808, Ch. 81, § 1, it is provided, that, in all criminal prosecutions
against any negro or mulatto, slave or free, the testimony of any negro
or mulatto, slave or free, “may be received in evidence for or against
them, any law now existing to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The original Act of 1717 does not in terms extend to free mulattoes,
and the Act of 1796 does not extend to the issue of manumitted slaves.
But where “a free-born white Christian man” was convicted of felony
on the testimony of a mulatto born of a manumitted negro, there was
among the judges in the Court of Appeals such diversity of opinion on
the legality of the testimony that no decision was ever given.[17]
In another case it was decided, that, where both parties are “free
white Christian persons,” a free colored person is incompetent,[18]
although a mulatto descended in the female line from a white woman is

(3.) In Virginia, the Code declares positively that “a negro or
Indian shall be a competent witness in a case of the Commonwealth
for or against a negro or Indian, or in a civil case to which only
negroes or Indians are parties, _but not in any other case_.”[20] The
decisions of the courts illustrate this proscription. Thus, it has
been adjudged that a free colored person cannot testify for a white
person, even against a colored person.[21] In another case a question
was incidentally raised on the competency of a colored convict as a
witness against another convict, with regard to an offence committed
in the penitentiary, and it was suggested that convicts generally
might be witnesses against each other.[22] This question, however,
was subsequently disposed of by a provision declaring, that, on the
prosecution of a convict, “all other convicts in the penitentiary shall
be competent witnesses for or against the accused, _except that negroes
shall not be allowed as witnesses against a white person_.”[23] They
may, however, testify in his favor.

(4.) In Kentucky, the Revised Statutes provide that “a slave, negro,
or Indian shall be a competent witness in a case of the Commonwealth
for or against a slave, negro, or Indian, or in a civil case to which
only negroes or Indians are parties, _but in no other case_. This
shall not be construed to exclude an Indian in other cases, who speaks
the English language and understands the nature and obligation of an
oath.”[24] Under this provision, as under that of Virginia, it has been
decided that a free colored person cannot be a witness for a white
person against a colored person.[25]

(5.) In North Carolina, the Revised Statutes provide that “all
negroes, Indians, mulattoes, and all persons of mixed blood descended
from negro and Indian ancestors to the fourth generation inclusive,
(though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person,)
whether bond or free, shall be deemed and taken to be _incapable in
law to be witnesses in any case whatsoever_, except against each
other.”[26] Under this statute they cannot testify for each other in
a criminal case. But the decisions furnish curious illustrations.
Thus, when a colored person was convicted on colored testimony as
a principal felon, it was subsequently held, on trial of the white
accessory, that the record of the conviction was only _primâ facie_
evidence of guilt.[27] In another case it was held that a free colored
woman could not make affidavit charging a white man as father of her
illegitimate child,[28] although the contrary has been decided in
Kentucky, on the assumption that the act is merely preliminary to the
real controversy.[29]

(6.) In Tennessee, the Act of 1794, Ch. 1, § 32, provides that “all
negroes, Indians, mulattoes, and all persons of mixed blood descended
from negro and Indian ancestors to the third generation inclusive,
(though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person,)
whether bond or free, shall be taken and deemed to be incapable in law
to be witnesses in any case whatever, _except against each other_:
_Provided_, That no person of mixed blood in any degree whatsoever, who
has been liberated within twelve months previously, shall be admitted
as a witness against a white person.” Under this Act, evidently
borrowed from the earlier statute of North Carolina, it was decided
that a colored person could not be a witness _for_ another colored
person. The judge who pronounced the opinion of the court seems to
confess the harshness of the rule, when he says: “The cases under this
Act in which these disqualified persons can be witnesses for each
other are when, plaintiff and defendant both being men of color, the
witnesses may at the same time be said to be reciprocally witnesses
against each of the parties. Perhaps the practice in Tennessee may have
been heretofore much more liberal than the statute. With that we have
nothing to do. As the law speaks, so it is our duty to speak.”[30] To
remedy this gross injustice, the Act of 1839, Ch. 7, § 1, was passed,
providing that such parties, “whether bond or free, shall be taken and
deemed to be good witnesses for each other in all cases, where, by the
provisions of said Act [viz. Act of 1794], they are made competent
witnesses against each other in criminal prosecutions.”[31]

(7.) In South Carolina there appears to have been no statute expressly
excluding the testimony of a slave against a white person, although the
early Act of 1740, § 39, necessarily implies this exclusion.[32] But
the rule was autochthonous. It sprang from the soil without statute.
Judge O’Neall, in an Essay on the Slave Laws, declares that “a slave
cannot testify, except as against another slave, free negro, mulatto,
or mestizo, and that without oath.”[33] But the exclusion did not bear
merely upon slaves. The judge announces that “free negroes, mulattoes,
and mestizoes cannot be witnesses or jurors in the superior courts;
… they cannot even be witnesses in inferior courts, with the single
exception of a magistrate’s and freeholder’s court, trying slaves or
free negroes, mulattoes or mestizoes, for criminal offences, and then
without oath.”[34] It appears that the Act of 1740, §§ 13, 14, on which
this custom was founded, applies only to free Indians and slaves;[35]
so that, strictly, free negroes, mulattoes, and mestizoes are not
despoiled of their right at Common Law to be heard under oath, but
the uniform practice under the Act, according to the judge, has been
otherwise.[36] On another occasion, another judge of South Carolina
says: “There is no instance in which a negro has been permitted to give
evidence, except in cases of absolute and indispensable necessity; nor,
indeed, has this court ever recognized the propriety of admitting them
in any case where the rights of white persons were concerned.”[37] In
still another case it was decided that a free person of color is not
competent in any case in a court of record, although both parties are
of the same class with himself.[38]

The rule thus rigorously declared has given rise to some strange
illustrations. Thus, for instance, in a suit to recover certain slaves
as part of a gang named, evidence was admitted that other negroes
of the defendant were accustomed to speak of those in question as
belonging to the gang.[39] In another case, where the book of a
tradesman was made up from the entries of a negro workman on a slate,
and notice was affixed to the door of the shop that all credits there
would be charged according to the negro’s entries, the Court doubted
whether the book could be evidence at all,--but if at all, only as
to the amount of work done, and then only against a person otherwise
proved to be a customer.[40]

(8.) In Georgia, as in South Carolina, there is no statute expressly
excluding the testimony of a slave where white persons are parties.
But they are excluded. The Act of 1770, declaring slaves to be
chattels personal to all intents and purposes whatsoever, provides
further, “that the evidence of any free Indians, mulattoes, mestizoes,
or negroes, or slaves, shall be allowed and admitted in all cases
whatsoever for or against another slave accused of any crime or offence
whatsoever, the weight of which evidence, being seriously considered
and compared with all other circumstances attending the case, shall
be left to the justices and jury.”[41] But where white persons are
parties, the rule of exclusion seems implied. And the same exclusion
seems also implied in the later Act of December 19, 1816, § 5, where
the rule, that “any witness shall be sworn who believes in God and a
future state of rewards and punishments,” is restricted to “the trial
of a slave or free person of color.”[42]

(9.) In Alabama the exclusion stands on positive statute. The Code
provides that “negroes, mulattoes, Indians, and all persons of mixed
blood descended from negro or Indian ancestors to the third generation
inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white
person, whether bond or free, must not be witnesses in any cause, civil
or criminal, except for or against each other.”[43]

(10.) In Mississippi, the Act of June 28, 1822, is nearly the same in
language with the Code of Alabama on this subject.[44] But by Act of
January 19, 1830, free Indians are placed on the same footing as white
persons, and consequently can testify.[45]

(11.) In Florida the law is brief and explicit. The Act of November 21,
1828, § 16, provides that “any negro or mulatto, bond or free, shall
be a good witness in the pleas of the State for or against negroes
or mulattoes, bond or free, or in civil cases where free negroes or
mulattoes shall alone be parties, and in no other cases whatever.”[46]

(12.) In Missouri, the Revised Statutes provide that “no negro or
mulatto, bond or free, shall be a competent witness, except in pleas of
the State against a negro or mulatto, bond or free, or in civil cases
in which negroes or mulattoes alone are parties.”[47] But it has been
decided, that, if a free negro is party to the record, even though he
vouches in a white person to defend his title, colored testimony is

(13.) In Arkansas, the Revised Statutes provide that “no negro or
mulatto, bond or free, shall be a competent witness in any case, except
in cases in which all the parties are negroes or mulattoes, or in which
the State is plaintiff and a negro or mulatto, or negroes or mulattoes,
are defendants.”[49]

(14.) In Louisiana, the Revised Statutes provide that “no slave shall
be admitted as a witness, either in civil or criminal matters, for or
against a white person”; and also, “no slave shall be admitted as a
witness, either in civil or criminal matters, for or against a free
person of color, except in case such free individual be charged with
having raised, or attempted to raise, an insurrection among the slaves
of this State, or adhering to them by giving them aid or comfort in any
manner whatsoever.”[50]

The Civil Code declares “absolutely incapable of being witnesses to
testaments” “women of what age soever,” and “slaves.”[51] But the Civil
Code has provided expressly that “the circumstance of the witness
being a free colored person is not a sufficient cause to consider the
witness as incompetent, but may, according to circumstances, diminish
the extent of his credibility”;[52] so that a free colored person in
Louisiana may be a witness for or against a white person, subject to
inquiry as to the value of his testimony.

(15.) In Texas, the Act of May 13, 1846, provides that “all negroes
and Indians, and all persons of mixed blood descended from negro
ancestry to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each
generation may have been a white person, shall be incapable of being a
witness in any case whatever, except for or against each other.”[53]


From this review of the provisions in the different States it appears,
that, with slight differences, there is nevertheless a prevailing
resemblance, such as becomes the sisterhood of Slavery.

                  “Facies non omnibus una,
    Nec diversa tamen; qualem decet esse sororum.”[54]

If the recital seems weary, it has not been superfluous, for it has
disclosed the disgusting terms of that proscription. It is difficult
to read the provisions in a single State without impatience; but the
recurrence of this injustice, expressed with such particularity in no
less than fifteen States,[55] makes impatience swell into indignation,
especially when it is considered that in every State this injustice is
adopted and enforced by the courts of the United States.

Slaves cannot testify in any of the States for or against a white
person in any case, either civil or criminal,--unless, perhaps, in
Maryland they may be allowed to testify against a white person who is
not a Christian.

Free persons of color are also, like slaves, incompetent to testify
for or against white persons, except in Delaware and Louisiana, where,
under circumstances already stated, they may testify, even though a
white person is a party.

It may be observed, also, that the statutes of Delaware, Virginia,
Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas,
Louisiana, and Texas do not expressly include Indian slaves; but
probably only a few slaves are of pure Indian blood. Those of mixed
Indian descent would undoubtedly be classed with mulattoes, and share
their incapacity.


The rule is seen also in judicial decisions, which may be classed among
the eccentricities of jurisprudence. Subtilty is a common attribute of
courts, but in these cases subtilty at times becomes fantastic. Reading
them, we may well confess that truth is stranger than fiction.

Thus, although slaves are not permitted to testify, their conversation
or declarations may, under certain circumstances, be admitted in
evidence. For instance, according to a decision in Missouri, if a
white person converses with a slave, the conversation, being otherwise
admissible, may be proved by any other white person who heard it. In
this case, Judge Scott said: “That negroes cannot testify against white
persons is clear; but this rule cannot be carried so far as to exclude
the conversation of a negro with a white person, when the conversation
on the part of the negro is merely given in evidence as an inducement
and in illustration of what was said by the white person. If the
conversation of the negro had been proved by herself, then it would
clearly have been illegal. Here the State proved by competent witnesses
that certain remarks were made to the plaintiff in error in order to
show what her reply was. It is a matter of indifference by whom they
were made. All that was required was to prove by competent evidence
that they were made. That they were made is a fact which may be proved
like any other fact in the cause.”[56]

On the same principle, it has been decided that any remarks by a slave
to a white person, calling for some reply on the part of the latter,
may be proved by the testimony of white persons, in order to show the
nature of that reply, or that none was made. The question arose on an
indictment for enticing a slave, when Judge Goldthwaite said: “The
question which the Court is called upon to determine is simply whether
the admission of a white man to the truth of any statement made by a
slave in his presence and hearing can be inferred from his silence. The
rule in relation to evidence of this character, so far as we are able
to deduce it from adjudged cases and the best elementary writers, is,
that the statement must be heard and understood by the party affected
by it, that the truth of the facts embraced in it must be within his
knowledge, and that the statement must be made under such circumstances
and by such persons as naturally to call for a reply. To reject the
evidence in the case under consideration, solely on the ground that
the party making the declaration was a slave, would be in effect to
decide that under no conceivable circumstances could a statement
made by a slave call for a response from a white man,--a proposition
in direct opposition to our daily observation and experience. That
the declaration was made by a person whose condition rendered him
incompetent as a witness does not in the slightest degree affect the
principle on which evidence of this character rests. If the declaration
was made by a slave, and the party affected by it had made by his
reply a direct admission of its truth, there could be no doubt of the
admissibility of the statement and reply; and in cases of implied
admissions, the admission, instead of being made by language, is made
by the silence of the party.”[57]

There seems no end to the illustrations of this exclusion; as, for
instance, when a colored woman acted as interpreter between a testator
and the person who drafted the will. In this case, Judge Lumpkin said:
“We hold, that, if a negro interpreter, incapable by law of being
sworn, is the _only_ channel of communication between the testator and
writer of the will, and there be no other evidence of the testator’s
knowledge of its contents or his assent thereto than that which is
derived through this medium, the will cannot be executed. But if the
will be written in the presence of the testator, and, in a language
which he understands, it is read over to him, and his dictation
and approval of the instrument are interpreted by a negro in his
hearing, and in the hearing of others interested in its contents, and
he signifies no dissent thereto by signs or otherwise, but, on the
contrary, is understood to express himself satisfied, the will may be
established, especially if it appears to have been made in conformity
to the previously declared intentions of the testator as to the
disposition of his property.”[58]

It has been decided that the incapacity of a free colored person will
not prevent him, even in a proceeding against a white person, from
making an affidavit required to obtain a continuance, a new trial,
absent testimony, or bail, or from swearing to a plea of _non est
factum_. He may also bind a white person to keep the peace, or make
affidavit for a writ of _Habeas Corpus_; and generally he may make such
affidavits as may be necessary to commence a suit, or to procure such
orders or steps to be taken therein as may be required to bring on a
trial.[59] Without this capacity, he would, according to Chief Justice
Robertson, of Kentucky, “be virtually disfranchised.” But the Chief
Justice adds, that, when he is swearing to facts against a white man,
to compel him to keep the peace, “he is not a witness, but a party
swearing to what any other party may.”[60] And thus his incapacity as
witness is still recognized.

In another class of cases, where it became necessary to show the
mental condition or bodily health of the slave, his declarations have
been held to be admissible, even in a suit against a white person; but
they must be proved by white testimony. Thus, in an action for breach
of covenant in not teaching a slave bound apprentice to the business
of coach-making, the defendant having offered to prove, that, when
he wished to instruct the slave, and threatened to punish him, if he
did not apply himself, the latter, as soon as the defendant was out
of the way, would declare “that he did [not] care about learning the
trade, it was no profit to him, and if he could avoid the lash, it
was all he cared for,”--it was held by that prominent magistrate, Mr.
Justice Gaston, of North Carolina, that the declarations of the slave
were admissible, “because his disposition and temper are subjects of
investigation, and these cannot be ascertained but through the medium
of such external signs.”[61] In another case the same question occurred
under these circumstances: A slave was hired by his master to work
in certain gold mines; but, while busy at the bottom of a shaft one
hundred and eighty feet deep, he was struck on the head by an iron
drill weighing five pounds, which fell from the top, and his skull was
fractured so that trepanning became necessary, and “a large piece of
the skull-bone was cut out.” In an action by the master for damages,
Judge Pearson commented on this rule of evidence: “It being material to
ascertain the bodily condition of the slave, his complaints of headache
when exposed to the sun, and his declarations that he was unable to
work in the sun or to endure hard labor are admissible.… The statute
excluding the testimony of a slave or free person of color against a
white man has no application. The distinction between natural evidence
and personal evidence, or the testimony of witnesses, is clear and
palpable. The actions, looks, and barking of a dog are admissible as
natural evidence upon a question as to his madness. So the squealing
and grunts or other expression of pain made by a hog are admissible
upon a question as to the extent of an injury inflicted on him. This
can in no sense be called the testimony of the dog or the hog. The only
advantage of this natural evidence, when furnished by brutes, over the
same kind of evidence, when furnished by human beings, whether white or
black, is, that the latter, having intelligence, may possibly have a
motive for dissimulation, whereas brutes have not; but the character of
the evidence is the same, and the jury must pass upon its credit.”[62]

The same principle has been recognized in still another case, where
the slave died of mortification in the bowels, and no physician was
called in until the day before his death, although his illness had
continued for three weeks. On this occasion Judge Green said: “The
statement of a sick slave as to the seat of his pain, the nature,
symptoms, and effects of his malady, is as well calculated to
illustrate the character of his disease as would be the statements of
any other person. They are, therefore, equally admissible for that
purpose. But whether expressions indicating the nature and effects of
a disease uttered by the sick person are real or feigned is for the
jury to determine.”[63] And this principle has also been recognized in
suits for breach of covenant in the warranty of a slave, or for fraud
in the sale of a slave.[64] But if the master distinctly warrants the
slave sound, he is not allowed to relieve himself of liability for this
false warranty by declarations of the slave to the purchaser that he
is diseased. A curious case occurred in Kentucky, which illustrates
this principle, and also the brutality of Slavery. A poor slave woman
was very ill, when her master formed “the intention of selling her,
lest he should lose her value by death.” Notwithstanding her pitiable
condition, he succeeded in disposing of her for two hundred dollars,
one quarter in a note and the remainder in saddle-trees, on the
representation that she was “hearty and sound, and fit for business.”
Although the slave woman, before the sale, told the purchaser of her
sickness, the Court annulled the sale, and directed the note and the
price of the saddle-trees to be given up, saying: “The slave herself
told the purchaser of her sickness before the sale; and after the sale,
when informed by him that he had bought her, she stated she could not
be of any use to him, as she was near death. When it is recollected
that frequently, on such occasions, there is a strong indisposition in
such creatures to be sold, and that by stratagem, to avoid a sale, they
may frequently feign sickness, or magnify any particular complaint with
which they are affected, the purchaser might well disbelieve her story,
especially when the words of the master assured him to the contrary.
For his own statements the master is responsible, and ought not to be
permitted to release himself of responsibility for his own falsehoods
by showing that the slave at the time so far corrected him as to tell
the truth.”[65]

The principle underlying the admission of the declarations of a
slave is plainly, but brutally, expressed by Judge Pearson, of North
Carolina. We have already seen, that, according to this learned judge,
who was for the time the voice of the law, the declarations of the
slave are not to be regarded as his _testimony_, any more than the
barking of a dog or the grunting of a hog “can be called the testimony
of the dog or the hog.” The slave complains of his sickness in words,
the dog moans, the hog squeals; but the law regards these expressions
of suffering alike. They may be proved as facts by competent evidence;
but the slave himself cannot testify what his complaints were, any more
than the dog or the hog.[66]

Such are eccentricities of judicial opinion on this important
question. They are not to be regarded merely as curiosities, for they
are all adopted and enforced in the national courts; so that even the
most brutal language becomes not merely the voice of the law, but the
voice of the nation also.


Thus do decisions of courts, as well as statutes, conspire to exhibit
this rule in revolting features. If we glance for one moment at its
consequences, there will be new occasion to condemn it.

Looking at it in a single aspect, consequences appear which baffle the
imagination to picture. Throughout the States where this exclusion
prevails, any white person may torture and maltreat a slave in any
conceivable manner and to any extent, or he may overwork and starve
him, or he may whip him to death, murder him in cold blood, or burn
him alive; and so long as he is the only white person present, the
laws afford him the most complete immunity from punishment, except
in Delaware and Louisiana, where also he is safe, if only slaves are
present. It is true that the same laws profess to punish the murder
of a slave as a capital offence, and also to punish severely any
mutilation or other cruel treatment of him. But such laws are nothing.
So long as the slave himself is not allowed to testify, so long the
laws will be justly obnoxious to the charge of actually authorizing a
white person to inflict any outrage upon him, even to the extent of
taking life with impunity. Every white person with only slaves about
him, or, it may be, with only colored persons, slave or free, has _a
letter of license_ to commit any outrage which passion or wickedness
may prompt.

The exposed condition of slaves, on account of incapacity to testify,
was recognized in the early legislation of South Carolina. The preamble
to Section 39 of the Act of 1740 begins as follows: “And whereas, by
reason of the extent and distance of plantations in this Province,
the inhabitants are far removed from each other, _and many cruelties
may be committed on slaves, because no white person may be present to
give evidence of the same_.”[67] Thus, even out of the mouth of South
Carolina, before this State had learned to sacrifice everything to
Slavery, we learn that “many cruelties may be committed on slaves”
under operation of this rule. But no such confession was needed. The
truth is apparent to the most superficial observer. Had South Carolina,
at that early day, followed the suggestion of her own statute, she
would have begun a career of civilization under which Slavery itself
must have disappeared.

The exposed condition of slaves on this account is curiously attested
by other statutes of the Slave States, showing that plantations far
removed from cities, and at considerable distance from each other, are
committed to the direction of _a single white overseer_, who, from
the circumstance that he is the only white person present, is placed
beyond all restraint or correction. Thus, in South Carolina,[68] in
Florida,[69] in Georgia,[70] and in Louisiana,[71] the statutes exact
the continued residence of _one white person_ on every plantation,
with a specified number of working slaves. These statutes had their
origin in no sentiment of justice or humanity, but, as appears in
early declarations, in a desire to prevent the harboring of fugitive
slaves, who might find asylum among those exclusively of their own
color. If, however, it was thought necessary for any purpose to require
by penalties the continued residence of _even one white person_ on a
slave plantation, it is reasonable to infer that there must be many
plantations where there is only one white person. And to one white
person thus situated, and thus removed from all check or observation,
the law commits the government and guardianship of slaves on a
plantation, and promises him in advance the most complete impunity for
all that he does, even to the extent of cold-blooded murder, provided
only that he is careful to let no white person see the deed.

This proscription is not confined to slaves. Free colored persons,
under operation of this rule, are exposed to the same fearful wrongs.
A white person may treat them as he treats a slave, and they are
absolutely without remedy. It would be difficult to point out any
law, the spawn of cruelty or tyranny, in ancient or modern times,
exceeding in atrocity that by which a free population is thus despoiled
of protection on account of color. It was one of the boasts of Magna
Charta that justice should be denied to no person,--“_Nulli negabimus
justitiam_”; but under this rule it is denied to a whole race.

Of course, the race, whether bond or free, which is thus despoiled,
suffers. But this is not all. Justice itself also suffers. Crime, even
against white persons in the presence of colored persons, must go

And yet this proscription is adopted and enforced in the courts of the
United States.

There are other aspects of this subject which invite attention.
History has her lessons. Reason also speaks with a voice that must be
heard. It becomes important, therefore, to consider this proscription,
first, in its origin and the examples of history, and, secondly, in the
grounds on which it is founded.


This proscription, or its equivalent, is traced to the earliest age. It
belongs to the Barbarism of Slavery. Even as applied to free colored
persons, it must be considered as a relic of Slavery not yet removed
out of sight.

The rule may also be treated as belonging to that system of evidence
which, in defiance of reason, undertook to declare in advance that
certain classes of witnesses were incompetent to testify,--or, in other
words, that the court and jury should not be permitted to hear what
they had to say on the issue. In the early Common Law numbers were
excluded who are now admitted to testify; and the Committee cannot err,
when they declare that the plain tendency of recent legislation, and
also of judicial decisions, in England and in the United States, has
been to limit the exclusion of witnesses, allowing the court and jury,
on hearing their testimony, to estimate its weight and value. The whole
system of exclusion was covered with ridicule by Jeremy Bentham,[72]
who exposed its irrational character. In our own country it has been
treated in a similar spirit, in a series of masterly essays on the
Rules of Evidence, by the present learned Chief Justice of Maine, Hon.
John Appleton.[73] Its origin may be traced to ignorance and prejudice.
There was a time, when, in Great Britain, at least on the borders of
England and Scotland, “an Englishman could not be a witness against a
Scot, nor a Scot against an Englishman, by reason of the enmity between
the two nations; … so that, if never so many Englishmen should with
their open eyes see a Scot commit murder, their testimony would signify
nothing, unless some Scot or other testified the same thing.”[74] But
their exclusion in this historic case was identical in principle and
consequence with that still receiving the sanction of Congress.

This whole body of cases has been despatched by Jeremy Bentham in these
words: “Exclusion put upon all persons of this or that particular
description _includes a license to commit_, in the presence of any
number of persons of that description, _all imaginable crimes_.”[75]
The Psalmist exclaims: “I said in my haste all men are liars.” But
the malediction of the Psalmist in his haste is gravely adopted in
this proscription, which undertakes to blast “all men” of a specified
description as “liars.” Assuming that all of a certain class or race
or color cannot be believed on oath, it practically says, that, though
present _in point of fact_ at any crime, they are absent _in point of

By the Mohammedan Law, no person could be convicted of adultery
without the testimony of _four male witnesses_,--a requirement which
was called by Gibbon “a law of domestic peace.”[76] The extravagance of
this requirement rendered it practically a law to prevent conviction,
not unlike the law excluding testimony. It is a disguised exclusion.
But of the two, the Mohammedan Law is the least irrational. At all
events, it does not assume the form of proscription.

The rule of exclusion, when founded on race or color, is something
more than a rule of evidence from which justice may suffer. It is a
proscription, which finds prototypes in other countries and times,
kindred in character to the persecution of the Moors in Spain, and
to that cruelty which for ages pursued the Jews everywhere, while it
reveals that insensibility to the claims of a common humanity which has
so slowly yielded to the demands of a just civilization. In France,
during the last century, even after politeness had begun to prevail,
it is recorded of a most intellectual lady, the commentator upon
Newton, Madame du Châtelet, that she did not hesitate to undress before
her male domestics, as it did not seem clear that such persons were
men.[77] But it is in the irreligious system of Caste, as established
in India, that we find the most perfect parallel. Indeed, the late
Alexander von Humboldt, in speaking of colored persons, has designated
them as a Caste;[78] and a political and juridical writer of France has
used the same term to denote not only the distinctions in India, but
those in our own country, which he characterizes as “humiliating and
brutal.”[79] But the Caste of India, by which the Brahmins and Sudras
have been kept apart, is already repudiated by Christian civilization
as “part and parcel of idolatry.” Bishop Heber, of Calcutta, says of
this injustice, it is “a system which tends more than anything else the
Devil has yet invented to destroy the feelings of general benevolence,
and to make nine tenths of mankind the hopeless slaves of the
remainder.”[80] But the language with which this accomplished bishop
condemns the heathen Caste of India is not inapplicable to that other
Caste in our own country, which, in one of its incidents, despoils the
colored person of his right to testify.

If we go back to the ancient Greeks, we find an interesting
distinction. A slave was not believed on oath; so that one is recorded
as exclaiming, in words which might be adopted in our day: “I know I
am a slave: I don’t know even what I do know.”[81] But, though not
believed on oath, his evidence was always taken with torture. On this
account his testimony appears to have been considered of more value
even than that of a freeman. Isæus, in arguing a case, said: “When
slaves and freemen are at hand, you do not make use of the testimony
of freemen; but, putting slaves to the torture, you thus endeavor to
find out the truth of what has been done.” Any person might offer his
own slave to be examined by torture, or demand the same thing of his
adversary, and the refusal of the latter was regarded as a strong
presumption against him.[82] Thus cruelly did this sharp people seek to
counteract the senseless rule of exclusion. Torture was recognized, but
justice was not absolutely sacrificed.

The Romans seem to have borrowed the practice from the Greeks, or
they were inspired to kindred cruelty. Not only slaves, but even free
persons of an inferior condition, were seldom examined except under
torture. Any person who wished the testimony of a slave might obtain
it on giving sufficient security to the master for full reparation
on account of damage from his torture. Mr. Jefferson states mildly
our own practice, in contrast with that of Rome, when he says: “With
the Romans, the regular method of taking the evidence of their slaves
was under torture; here it has been thought better never to resort to
their evidence.”[83] In the latter days of the Empire, a general rule
made the slave inadmissible as witness for or against his master or
his master’s children, except in cases of treason, where the danger
of the crime overruled ordinary considerations, and also in cases of
incest and adultery, for the good reason that _in a society where all
domestics were slaves any other evidence could hardly be procured_.[84]
But the latter reason might obviously exist in the case of any crime;
so that, on principle, when other proofs were wanting, resort might be
had to the testimony of slaves. Indeed, a learned commentator on the
Roman Law has distinctly said that this law did not admit slaves to be
witnesses, unless the cause was difficult, looking to the welfare of
the republic, _or other proofs were wanting_: “_Servos lex civilis non
patitur testes esse, … nisi causa sit ardua, ad rei publicæ spectans
utilitatem, aut aliæ desint probationes._”[85] It became customary,
in civil matters, to admit the testimony of slaves as to their own
acts, although affecting the interests of their masters; and after the
establishment of Christianity, when heresy took its place as a crime
to be dreaded as much as treason, the testimony of slaves was received
equally with regard to each.

The rule of exclusion during the Dark Ages naturally took its
character from the prevailing darkness. The Barbarians did not, in this
respect, soften the law of ancient Rome. Amidst the cares of empire
this task was attempted by Charlemagne; but how little he accomplished
may be seen in his Capitularies, where slaves are rejected as witnesses
against their masters, except in cases of treason, and even freedmen,
unless in the third generation, are not admitted to testify against
freemen.[86] And the same intolerance is attributed to the Canon Law:
“_Item placuit, ut omnes servi vel proprii liberti ad accusationem
non admittantur_.”[87] But it appears that at this time, among some
races, it was the prerogative of royal serfs, and of others not of
base condition, to have their testimony received against freemen,
especially in cases of childbirth, violence, or death by accident.[88]
And the influence of the clergy seems to have overruled this exclusion
in certain specified districts. Thus, in 1109, on the petition of the
ecclesiastics of Paris, Louis the Sixth conceded to the serfs of the
latter a perfect liberty of testifying and combating (_testificandi
et bellandi_) against freemen as well as slaves; and this important
concession was confirmed by the Pope, who declared, however, that there
ought to be a difference in the conditions governing a family of the
Church and the slaves of secular persons.[89] Although this concession
was made for the sake of the Church rather than its humble dependants,
it was an example by which the world became accustomed to receive the
testimony of slaves.

In England, under the Common Law, the rule of exclusion on account of
Slavery was never fully recognized. The villein seems to have been
admitted as a witness in all cases except against his lord. “I do not
know,” says Mr. Hallam, “that their testimony, except against their
lord, was ever refused in England.”[90] It was only in respect of
his lord that he was without rights. But he was sometimes received,
although the lord himself was a party;[91] and in criminal cases
generally it was no exception to a witness that he was a bondman.[92]
Such, even at the beginning, was the voice of the Common Law. But
with the disappearance of villenage all pretence of exclusion on this
account vanished in England, never to return.

The offensive rule seems to have found less acceptance in the
possessions of other countries than with us. It has been inferred,
after careful inquiry, that slaves in the Spanish and Portuguese
settlements are not always incompetent as witnesses, while the _Code
Noir_ of Louis the Fourteenth, amidst ungenerous prohibitions, allowed
their evidence to be heard, “as a suggestion, or unauthenticated
information, which might throw light on the evidence of other
witnesses,” and afterwards, by later edict, sanctioned the testimony
of slaves, “when white witnesses were wanting, except against their
masters.”[93] But the rule is the natural complement of Slavery; and it
cannot be disguised that it has prevailed, with corresponding degrees
of force, wherever Slavery has been recognized. Its prevalence with us
is only another illustration of the power of Slavery.

If you would find the country where slaves have been most completely
despoiled of the right of testimony, you will not go to Greece or
Rome, for in these classic lands the slaves were admitted to testify
in certain cases; nor will you linger even in the Dark Ages, for there
were then excepted cases; nor will you search English precedents, for
the villein was incompetent only against his lord, and not always
against him; nor will you look to the colonies of Spain, Portugal, or
France, for in all of these the cruel rule was mitigated; but you will
turn to those States of our Republic where the slave is not permitted
to testify against his master or any other white person, and where
even free colored persons, having no master, are smitten with the same
incapacity to testify against any white person.


From examples of history the way is easy to an inquiry into the grounds
on which this proscription is founded.

The true reason may be traced to the unhappy prejudices engendered
by Slavery, and to the policy of sustaining this wrong. Indeed, it is
hardly less essential to Slavery than the lash itself. An early statute
of Virginia places the rule on the ground that none but Christians
should be witnesses, and even among these “Popish recusants convict”
were inadmissible.[94] But it is generally vindicated by dwelling on
_the degraded condition of the slave, and the interest he may have to
conceal or deny the truth_.[95] A careful examination will show that
this apology is baseless as Slavery itself.

Of course, if a witness is too degraded to feel the sanction of an
oath, his testimony should not be received. Such is the unquestionable
suggestion of reason; nor can it make any difference that the witness
is white or black. But the slave is not necessarily and universally so
degraded as to merit exclusion, nor is his interest to conceal or deny
the truth different materially from that of other persons,--although
it is undoubtedly true, that, under the instinct of self-defence, and
against the exactions of Slavery, he learns to deceive. But in every
State except South Carolina _the oath of the slave is received against
colored persons_, which could not be done, if he could not be trusted
under oath. A judge of South Carolina has vindicated the capacity of
the slave in this respect, and thus unintentionally repelled the rule
of exclusion. “Negroes, slaves or free,” says Judge O’Neall, “will
feel the sanction of an oath with as much force as any of the ignorant
classes of white people in a Christian country. They ought, too, to
be made to know, if they testify falsely, they are to be punished for
it by human laws. The course pursued on the trial of negroes, in the
abduction and obtaining testimony, leads to none of the certainties
of truth. Falsehood is often the result, and innocence is thus often
sacrificed on the shrine of prejudice.”[96] But this learned judge of
South Carolina is not alone in vindicating the propriety of examining
the slave on oath. Judge Clayton, of the High Court of Errors and
Appeals in Mississippi, in delivering the opinion of the Court, thus
expressed himself: “It is also objected, that there ought, in the case
of slaves, to be some evidence of a sense of religious accountability,
upon which the validity of all testimony rests, and that the same
presumption of such religious belief cannot be indulged in reference to
them as in regard to white persons. As to the latter, it is said the
presumption is in favor of their proper religious culture and belief in
revelation and a future state of rewards and punishments; as to slaves,
it is contended the presumption does not arise, because of a defect of
religious education. It is true, that, if the declarant had no sense
of future responsibility, his declarations would not be admissible.
But the absence of such belief must be shown. The simple elementary
truths of Christianity, the immortality of the soul and a future
accountability, are generally received and believed by this portion of
our population. From the pulpit many, perhaps all, who attain maturity,
hear these doctrines announced and enforced, and embrace them as
articles of faith.”[97]

But if slaves generally have a sufficient amount of religious belief
to supply the sanction of an oath, it is clear that they are not
so degraded as to justify their exclusion as sworn witnesses. And
the Slave States, while excluding them, have practically recognized
their fitness. Not only is the oath of a slave received in all the
Slave States except South Carolina, but he is liable to punishment
for perjury,[98] and sometimes the punishment inflicted is diabolic.
In Virginia,[99] and also in Maryland,[100] the punishment formerly
was “cropping.” In Florida, the statute appoints that the offender
“shall have his or her ears nailed to posts, and there to stand for
one hour, and, moreover, receive thirty-nine lashes on his or _her
bare back_.”[101] In Mississippi, if a colored person is found to have
given false testimony, he is “to have one ear nailed to the pillory,
and there to stand for the space of one hour, and then the said ear to
be cut off, and thereafter the other ear nailed in like manner, and
cut off at the expiration of one other hour; and, moreover, to receive
thirty-nine lashes on his or _her bare back_, well laid on, at the
public whipping-post, or such other punishment as the court shall think
proper, not extending to life or limb.”[102] But every recognition of
the oath of a slave on any occasion, and especially every punishment
of a slave for perjury, testifies to his capacity as a witness. The
barbarism of the punishment testifies also against Slavery. It is vain
to say that a slave is incompetent, when, in certain cases, he is
already accepted as witness, and visited with fiendish punishment, if
he violates his oath.

The absurdity of this pretension is illustrated by a provision in the
statutes of Kentucky, by which a slave in the penitentiary may be a
competent witness against a white convict.[103] Such was early the law
of Virginia, and even now he is competent for the white convict. Thus,
so long as a slave commits no crime, his oath is not received in court
to affect a white person even with the smallest pecuniary liability;
but let him be sent to the penitentiary as a convict for crime, and
forthwith his capacity as a witness is enlarged, and on his testimony a
white convict may be deprived of life! But, obviously, the commission
of a crime carrying with it the doom of the penitentiary must impair
rather than increase confidence in the veracity of the criminal. Such
is the absurd inconsistency in the application of this rule.

Although the rule may be properly traced to Slavery, of which it is
an important ally, yet, from considerations already presented, it
seems to follow that it is founded on a reason broader than Slavery,
suggested, however, by Slavery. According to the logic of these
considerations, the disqualification of the slave as a witness against
white persons is not founded on the fact that he is a slave, because
the disqualification, except in Delaware and Louisiana, attaches also
to free colored persons; nor is it founded on want of that religious
belief required in a sworn witness, nor on any actual disregard of his
testimony under oath, because the slave in certain cases is sworn,
and his testimony under oath is accepted in the administration of
justice, and he is punished for perjury; but it is simply, in the
last analysis, _an incapacity attached by law to persons of color_.
Indeed, the obvious inference from the remarks of Judge O’Neall[104]
is, that, in his opinion, it is not slavery, but color, which is
the ground of exclusion. But the Committee have already shown the
pernicious consequences of such proscription, and especially that the
disfranchisement of the African race operates as a liberty to all white
persons, not excepting, in most of the States, even white convicts, to
do as they please, and commit any crime in the Decalogue, “unwhipped
of justice,” if nobody but a colored person is present. It needs no
argument to establish the unreasonableness of a disqualification which,
according to the confession of its advocates, attaches to the shading
of the human skin, especially in view of the fearful cruelty that is
its natural consequence.

In Delaware and Louisiana the disqualification rests on the fact of
Slavery. In many other States the free colored persons are so few in
number that the fact of Slavery seems still to overshadow the whole
race. Assuming, then, that the disqualification is traced not merely
to the shading of the skin, but to the fact of Slavery, it is none the
less to be rejected, not only as part of Slavery, but as essentially
irrational and inhuman.

The slave feels the sanction of an oath hardly less than many white
persons of inferior condition. On grounds of reason, therefore, and
independently of prejudice, the two classes at the outset would be
entitled to an equal degree of confidence,--modified, of course, and
decreasing, as there was a manifest interest or temptation to testify
falsely. But the slave is exposed to such corrupting power less than
a white person. He can have no pecuniary interest, since he has no
right of property. And, except where his master is a party or otherwise
interested, he must be alike without hope of gain or fear of punishment
to make him swerve from the truth. Accordingly, in all cases where his
master stands indifferent, the reason for excluding the slave is not
so strong as for excluding white persons of inferior condition, since
the slave may feel the sanction of an oath as much as they, while he
is less exposed to any disturbing influence. Such, certainly, is the
conclusion justified by the facts.

The dependence of the slave upon his master must naturally subject him
peculiarly to his influence, whether from hope of reward or fear of
punishment; so that his testimony in favor of his master would always
be viewed with suspicion. If, contrary to this active interest, the
slave testifies _against_ his master, his testimony would seem to be
worthy of peculiar consideration. But even where he testifies _for_
his master, there can be no more reason for excluding his testimony
than for excluding that of a child for a father or a mother, or of
excluding that of a father or a mother for a child. Unquestionably, in
each of these cases the bias is stronger than any that can exist on the
part of a slave, as love is stronger than fear. Therefore there is no
valid reason why a slave should not be permitted to testify _for_ or
_against_ his master. The same considerations which determine the value
of other testimony will suffice with regard to him; and thus, in every
respect, the rule of exclusion becomes irrational and arbitrary.

But this rule, whether applicable to slaves or free colored persons,
is still more irrational and unwarranted when it is considered that
the testimony is submitted to the scrutiny of a jury of white persons,
under the watchful observation of a court of white persons likewise,
and that it can have no effect whatever except through assent of their
judgment. The motive which actuates the slave, whatever it may be,
whether revenge or interest or fear, must be open to discovery. It is
therefore preposterous to argue that any white person, at any time or
anywhere, especially in a Slave State, can be prejudiced by colored
testimony, or that he can be convicted by a white jury under the eye of
a white court, unless that testimony is strictly worthy of belief. The
rule of exclusion is not only an expression of tyranny and prejudice,
but an insult to the understanding, and even to common sense.

If this rule were only irrational and eccentric, it might be pardoned
to immeasurable madness, and handed over to the derision of mankind.
But even its absurdity disappears in its appalling injustice. Two
things are obvious to the most superficial observation: first, that
under its influence the slave is left absolutely without legal
protection of any kind, the victim of lawless outrage; and, secondly,
that even crimes against white persons may escape unpunished: so that
in these two important cases justice must fail. But this failure of
justice becomes intolerable, when it is considered that it is not from
accident or temporary weakness, but that it is absolutely organized by
law. Nor is it confined to slaves. It embraces in its ban free colored
persons also, without regard to intelligence, property, or relations in


Such is this proscription, as it appears (1.) in the various statutes
of the Slave States, (2.) in the eccentricities of judicial decisions,
(3.) in its consequences, (4.) in examples of history, and (5.) in
the grounds on which it is founded. Regarding it in either of these
aspects, it must be rejected. The statutes in which it is declared
and the judicial eccentricities by which it is illustrated belong to
the curiosities of an expiring barbarism. Its consequences shock the
conscience of the world. The examples of history testify against it.
The reason on which it is founded shows that it stands on nothing that
is reasonable.

It is for Congress to determine whether this proscription shall
continue in the courts of the United States,--or, in other words, if a
local rule, barbarous, irrational, and unjust, born of Slavery, shall
be allowed to exist yet longer under the national sanction.



    March 14th, the Senate having under consideration the bill
    making appropriations for the consular and diplomatic service,
    Mr. Sumner, in behalf of the Committee on Foreign Relations,
    moved the following amendment:--

        “That the President may, in his discretion, by and with
        the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint an envoy
        extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the kingdom
        of Belgium, who shall receive no higher compensation than
        is now allowed to a minister resident.”

    The amendment was opposed by Mr. Fessenden, of Maine, to whom
    Mr. Sumner replied.[105]

    March 15th, the debate was continued, and Mr. Sumner spoke
    several times. In reply to Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, he said:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--There seems a perpetual disposition in this debate
to change the issue. I stated that the issue was how we shall best
give efficiency to our representation in Europe. Now the Senator from
Kentucky says that the issue is how we shall give our minister at
Belgium an opportunity to get into a little better company. That is
his imagination. Surely it is not the way the Committee directed me to
state the case. It is not the way in which I have presented it at any
time in this discussion. I hope that Senators will not be diverted from
the real issue, which is simply, Will the public interests be promoted
by this change? The Committee answer in the affirmative, and in my
humble opinion the Committee is right.

    MR. DAVIS. Will the Chairman specify in what respect the public
    interest will be promoted, in what respect the efficiency of
    our representative at the court of Brussels will be increased,
    and in what respect the increase of his grade will render this
    Government and its interests more acceptable to Leopold?

MR. SUMNER. In the same way, Sir, that the public interests are
promoted at London, and also at Paris, by a plenipotentiary instead of
a minister resident.

    MR. DAVIS. According to that rule, we ought to have a
    first-class minister at every court in Europe and at every
    government in South America, and everywhere else where we send
    diplomatic representatives.

MR. SUMNER. No,--the Senator will pardon me,--not at every court in
Europe, but only at those where we have considerable interests. It all
pivots upon that. What are our relations with different courts? With
considerable interests, we should be represented accordingly. With
inconsiderable interests only, there is no reason to raise the mission.
We have first-class missions, according to our scale of rank, at
London, Paris, Madrid, Turin, Vienna, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. And

    MR. DAVIS. Will the honorable Chairman tell me the relative
    proportion between the commercial interests of the United
    States and England, the United States and France, and the
    United States and Belgium?

MR. SUMNER. There are interests of all kinds, commercial and
political, differing in different countries. I need not remind the
Senator that our interests with England and France are largely superior
to those with any other European power,--much above those with Belgium;
but if you ask me what other European power I should place next after
those two, I should hesitate, in the condition of our affairs at this
precise moment, to place any before Belgium.

    MR. DAVIS. Would you not place Russia before Belgium?

MR. SUMNER. I would not exaggerate, but I am obliged to acknowledge,
in reply to the Senator, that I should hesitate at this moment to say
that even Russia was so situated as to make our minister there so
important to our present interests as our minister at Belgium. In one
word, our minister at Brussels has more to do than our minister at St.
Petersburg. Look I pray you, at the geographical position of Belgium,
its thronging, active population, its commerce, its manufactures. But
countries derive character and even power from their rulers, and this
is the happy advantage of Belgium, especially in her relations with
us. You all know that her sovereign is able to exercise a persuasive
influence over international affairs, entirely out of proportion to the
extent of territory he so wisely governs, and this influence has been
exerted at a critical moment in our favor.

I would not say a word in disparagement of any other power. But it
would be difficult, after England and France, to name any power which,
all things considered, furnishes at this moment such opportunities
of usefulness in the public service to any American plenipotentiary
as are afforded by Belgium. Would the Senator compare our interests
there with those in Prussia, one of the most respectable and highly
educated courts of the globe, or with Austria, great in military
power and physical resources? At Berlin and Vienna there is less for
our ministers to do, and less of opportunity, than at Brussels. The
geographical position of these capitals explains this difference, at
least in part.

Or, if you please, take the government of Spain, representing that
great Castilian monarchy on which it was said that the sun never set. A
Senator whispers that this was said some time ago. True; but you have
in Spain the old Castilian pride and faith born of that immense empire;
and yet our interests with Spain at this moment, or, in other words,
our opportunities in that kingdom, are not more important than in the
smaller kingdom of Belgium, which the sun covers in much less than a
single hour.

Then there is the new-born kingdom of Italy, where we have also a
plenipotentiary. Does any one suppose, that, if you put aside that
sympathy which every American feels for this interesting power, newly
dedicated to Liberty, our interests there at this moment are equal to
those with Belgium? Here again geography explains the difference.

There only remains in this review, to which the Senator invites me,
the empire of Russia, bound by many years of history to amity with
the United States, and absolutely fixed as our friend beyond any jar
of diplomacy or any jealousy of growing power. But our commercial
relations with this extensive country are inferior to those with
Belgium; and St. Petersburg is further removed from the great centre
of observation than Brussels. The Emperor of Russia is illustrious
from a transcendent act, for which his name will be blessed; but his
assured regard for us takes away all solicitude as to his policy, while
the complications of present questions in which he is involved render
his relations to other European governments less intimate than those
of King Leopold, even if the latter had not, from family and long
experience, a position of peculiar weight in the scale of European
affairs, so that Belgium under his rule has a value beyond her natural
power or territorial extent. Belgium may be small in domain, but so was
Greece; nor will any one presume to measure the influence her sovereign
may exercise by the number of square miles he governs.

But the Senator asked if there was any other government so small in
numbers where we were represented by a plenipotentiary. I have before
me, from the last almanac, the population of Chile, where we have
a plenipotentiary. It is one million five hundred and fifty-eight
thousand. Here, also, is the population of Peru, where we have a
plenipotentiary,--two million five hundred thousand.

    MR. DAVIS. I believe that those missions ought to be reduced,
    and I would vote to-day for the reduction of the missions to
    Chile and to Peru.

MR. SUMNER. Very well; but let us take each question by itself. That
is the more practical way. When the proposition to reduce the missions
to Chile and Peru comes before the Senate, I shall be ready to meet
it, and I do not say that I shall differ from the Senator; but that
proposition is not now before us, nor is it involved even indirectly in
the pending amendment.

It is said, that, if we raise this mission, next year there will be
attempt to raise the salary. Very well; when that comes, we can meet
it. Again it is said that next year there will be attempt to raise both
mission and salary at the Hague and other places. Very well; when the
time comes,--and it must have the sanction of a committee of this body
to come before the Senate,--we will meet it. Meanwhile I ask you to
consider the actual question under debate, which is, whether you will
authorize the Government, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the
case and for the support of our interests abroad, to raise the Belgian
mission without any increase of salary. I have said this too often,
I know; but I have been driven to it by the pertinacity with which
Senators have insisted upon presenting the case in a false light.

    The amendment was adopted,--Yeas 21, Nays 18,--and the bill
    passed the Senate; but the House of Representatives would
    not consent to raise the Belgian mission. Two different
    conference committees were appointed. The first united in the
    following substitute, drawn by Mr. Sumner, which would enable
    the President to raise the mission in his discretion without
    increase of salary: “That an envoy extraordinary and minister
    plenipotentiary, appointed at any place where the United States
    are now represented by a minister resident, shall receive the
    compensation fixed by law and appropriated for a minister
    resident, and no more.” But this was disagreed to by the House,
    and at the second conference the Senate receded from the
    amendment, so that it was lost.

    In the next Congress it was renewed by Mr. Sumner, and
    prevailed. It will be found in the Consular and Diplomatic Act
    of July 25, 1866.[106]



    The Senate having under consideration the Consular and
    Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, an amendment was reported by Mr.
    Fessenden from the Committee on Finance reviving the provision
    in the Act of August 18, 1856,[107] authorizing twenty-five
    consular pupils, and making an appropriation for them. The
    amendment was opposed by Mr. Collamer, of Vermont, and Mr.
    Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland. Mr. Sumner said in reply:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--The chief objection of the Senator from Maryland
seemed to be that we might educate these young men at the national
expense and very soon thereafter lose them,--in other words, not get
our money back. In the first place, it is very easy, by regulations
at the State Department before these appointments, to provide against
any such contingency; and I understand that Mr. Marcy, indefatigable
and ingenious as the Senator remembers he was, did, by a series of
regulations, carefully provide for this very case. Should we return
to the original law, the Secretary of State would have only to
revive those original regulations by one of his most distinguished
predecessors. I believe this a sufficient answer to the Senator.

But the Senator from Michigan [Mr. CHANDLER] has already answered him
in another way, when he asked, very pertinently, What assurance have we
that we shall enjoy the services of the cadets at West Point, or the
naval cadets now at Newport? There are certain requirements of service,
but the Senator knows well that nothing is more common than for cadets,
especially military, to pass immediately from that education they have
received at the expense of their country into occupations serving only
their private advantage.

    MR. JOHNSON. That is with the consent of the Government. The
    Government accepts their resignations.

MR. SUMNER. Very well; what is to hinder regulations at the Department
of State requiring the consent of the Government before these pupils
shall be released,--in short, holding them by some words of contract
for a certain term? Here let me say, that, unlike cadets, these pupils
will give the Government valuable service even while pupils.

But, Sir, passing from these considerations, allow me for a moment
to ask the attention of the Senate to this proposition in two
aspects,--the first as a carrying out of the consular and diplomatic
statute of the United States, and the second as in the nature of an
educational provision calculated to benefit our consular service abroad.

In the first aspect, the Senate will bear in mind that down to 1855 we
had no general diplomatic and consular statute. Our representation in
foreign countries went under thorough review, and the result was the
statute in our books, determining grades, adjusting salaries, and, in
one word, systematizing the whole business. Let the character of the
statute be borne in mind. But this statute, which aimed to present a
complete system, contained the provision for consular pupils.

Now, Sir, at that time and by that statute our consular salaries were
adjusted to this very provision of consular pupils. The one was in the
nature of a complement to the other. The salaries were made lower than
they otherwise would have been in certain cases, because the consuls
were to be aided by pupils with a compensation fixed by statute. But
the provision for pupils was repealed shortly afterwards, indeed before
the experiment had been tried, without, however, raising the consular
salaries in corresponding degree. It seems clear that something must
be done now. You must do one of two things,--either raise the consular
salaries or appoint consular pupils. Otherwise the original idea of the
statute fails, and our system is defective.

But this seems to be the least important aspect of the subject. A
mere question of salary, or, if you please, of system in the statute,
is trivial, to my mind, by the side of that other consideration to
which Senators have already alluded. I said that this was part of an
educational system for the advancement of our service abroad. I do not
think you can exaggerate its importance in this respect. Let any one
who has been abroad, or had personal acquaintance with those who have
been abroad, bear testimony to the abounding ignorance in our foreign
service, from the circumstance that there is nobody there, unless a
hired foreigner, acquainted with the language, the laws, or the usages
of the people about him. Sir, it is a shame that our offices abroad,
whether consular or diplomatic, are served in this inferior way. Here,
now, is a practical proposition beginning a remedy. It is simple and
direct. It seems to me that it cannot fail to be of considerable
advantage. The business of these offices will be better done, and
there will be a staff of educated experts, familiar with foreign life,
whose knowledge and experience, even if not always in the service of
Government, will pass into the capital stock and resources of the
country. Nothing is clearer than that the education of the people is a
source of national wealth, even of national power.

But the Senator from Vermont says that education is needed more in the
diplomatic service than in the consular. Granted; it is needed very
much in the diplomatic service; but because needed there, is that any
reason why we should not supply it here? The argument, it seems to me,
was hardly worthy of that Senator. Let a proposition be brought forward
for an educational system applicable to our diplomatic representatives,
and we will entertain it. Meanwhile let us act on that before us,
which, I submit, is eminently practical in character. Who are our
consuls? They are not diplomatic or political agents in the common
sense of the term; they are commercial agents. To discharge their
duties fitly, they should be familiar with the interests of commerce,
how it is conducted, and the language it employs, where they happen to
be. And permit me to say, that a great country like ours, one of whose
chief sources of wealth and of grandeur is commerce, must not hesitate
to supply the education needed to secure commercial representatives not
unworthy of the Republic they represent.

As the consul is a commercial representative, he is on this account
especially the agent of a commercial country. If our commerce were
less, our interest in having good consuls would be less. But with the
surpassing growth of our commerce this interest enlarges. To send
abroad consuls without proper education must necessarily bring the
national character into disrepute, and jeopard the concerns intrusted
to them. For the sake of our good name abroad, which is part of our
national possessions, and also for the sake of those vast commercial
concerns which encircle the globe, I hope that this proposition, which
is a small beginning in the right direction, will not be rejected.

    March 16th, the debate was continued, and Mr. Sumner spoke
    again. The amendment was adopted,--Yeas 20, Nays 16,--and the
    bill passed the Senate. The House disagreed to the amendment,
    but afterwards accepted the report of a conference committee,
    authorizing the appointment of “consular clerks, not exceeding
    thirteen in number at any one time, who shall be citizens of
    the United States, and over eighteen years of age at the time
    of their appointment, and shall be entitled to compensation
    for their services respectively at a rate not exceeding
    one thousand dollars per annum, to be determined by the



MR. PRESIDENT,--It is proposed to adjourn in honor of OWEN LOVEJOY,
whose recent death we mourn. Could his wishes prevail, Senators would
continue in their seats and help enact into law some one of the several
measures pending to secure the obliteration of Slavery. Such an act
would be more acceptable to him than any personal tribute.

He spoke well always, but he believed in deeds rather than words,
although speech with him was a deed. It was his contribution to that
sublime cause for which he toiled always. Words may be often “the
daughters of earth,” but there was little of earth in his. Proceeding
from a pure and generous heart, they have so far prevailed, even
during his life, that they must be named gratefully among those good
influences by which the triumph has been won. How his enfranchised soul
would be elevated, even in those abodes to which he is removed, at
knowing that his voice is still heard on earth, encouraging, exhorting,
insisting that there shall be no hesitation anywhere in striking at
Slavery,--that this unpardonable wrong, from which alone the Rebellion
draws its wicked life, must be blasted by Presidential proclamation,
blasted by Act of Congress, blasted by constitutional prohibition,
blasted in every possible way, by every available agency, and at every
occurring opportunity, so that no trace of the outrage may continue
in the institutions of the land, and especially that its accursed
footprints may no longer defile the national statute-book! In vain you
pass resolutions in tribute to him, if you neglect that cause for which
he lived, and hearken not to his voice.

Shortly before he went away from Washington to die, I sat by his
bedside. There, too, within call, was the beloved partner of his life.
He was cheerful; but his thoughts were mainly turned to his country,
whose fortunes in the bloody conflict with Slavery he watched with
intensest care. He did not doubt the great result; but he longed to be
at his post again, to teach his fellow-citizens, and to teach Congress,
how vain to expect an end of the Rebellion without making an end of
Slavery. It is only just to his fame that now, on this occasion of
commemoration, all this should be faithfully told. To suppress it would
be dishonest. I could not speak at his funeral, if I were expected to
unite in robbing his grave of any of these honors derived from his
transcendent courage and discernment in the trials of the present hour.

The Journals of the House show how faithfully he began his labors
at the present session. On the 14th of December he introduced a
bill, whose title discloses its character: “A bill to give effect
to the Declaration of Independence, and also to certain provisions
of the Constitution of the United States.” It proceeds to recite
that all men are created equal, and endowed by the Creator with the
inalienable right to life, liberty, and the fruits of honest toil;
that the Government of the United States was instituted to secure
those rights; that the Constitution declares that no person shall be
deprived of liberty without due process of law, and also provides
(Article six, clause two) that “this Constitution, and the laws of
the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, shall be
the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every State shall be
bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to
the contrary notwithstanding”; that it is now demonstrated by the
Rebellion that Slavery is absolutely incompatible with the union,
peace, and general welfare for which Congress is to provide; and it
therefore enacts that all persons heretofore held in slavery in any of
the States or Territories of the United States are declared freedmen,
and are forever released from slavery or involuntary servitude,
except as punishment for crime on due conviction. On the same day he
introduced another bill, to protect freedmen and to punish any one
for enslaving them. These were among his last public acts. And now
they testify how honestly he dealt with that _question of questions_
in which all other questions are swallowed up. It is easy to see that
he scorned the wicked fantasy that man can hold property in man.
This pernicious delusion, which is the source of such intolerable
pretensions on the part of slave-masters, and, worse still, of such
intolerable irresolution on the part of many professing opposition to
Slavery, could get no hold of him. He knew that it was a preposterous
falsehood, as wicked as false, born of prejudice and supreme credulity,
and therefore he brushed aside as cobweb all the fine-spun snares of
law or Constitution so ingeniously woven in its support. Recognizing
Freedom as the God-given birthright of all who wear the human form, he
knew no duty higher than to protect it always; and to this end law and
Constitution must minister.

He had never been a judge, and was not even a lawyer, so that the
technicalities and subtilties of the profession had no chance of
enslaving him. Besides, to a nature like his, independent and
self-poised, what were the sophisms of learning and skill, when
employed in the support of Wrong? It was enough, that, wherever Slavery
appeared, it was in defiance of that commanding law of Right, before
which all unjust pretensions, whatever form they take, must disappear
like the morning dew under the flashing arrows of the ascending sun.
From the beginning and at all times he was fixed against all compromise
with Slavery, and stood like a fortress. Sir, let it be spoken here in
his honor. He lies cold in death, but he could have no better epitaph
than this: “_Here rests one who would not compromise with Wrong_.”
When Senators and Presidents bent to the ignoble behest, he stood
firm. He was gifted to see that Slavery, unlike Tariff or Bank, did
not come within the range of compromise any more than the Decalogue
or Multiplication Table. He saw well how shamefully unconstitutional
and inhuman was the Fugitive Slave Act, in spite of every apology of
compromise, and refused it all support. He lies cold in death, but
his principles will live to sweep this unutterable atrocity from the
statute-book, which it still fills from cover to cover with blackness.

He was not only a faithful counsellor of perfect loyalty, in whom
truth was a religion and an instinct, but he was a counsellor whose
experience of mankind and of public life united with aptitude for
affairs in giving to what he said added value. He sat for several years
in the other House face to face with Slave-Masters, who then ruled the
country, so that he knew them well in every respect, but especially in
their open brutality and surpassing effrontery. During this period,
while shut out from participation in the public business, his duty was
that of champion, and nobly did he perform it. But those who watched
him under the responsibility recently cast upon a Representative of his
character observed that he developed a practical talent which rendered
him useful, not only as champion, but also as workman in the machine
of government. He was a supporter of the present Administration, and
of that declared policy which, according to the motto of Algernon
Sidney, adopted on the arms of Massachusetts, seeks “placid quiet under
Liberty,”--_placidam sub Libertate quietem_. There are few among his
associates who may not be instructed and inspired by his magnanimous

He had been a lifelong soldier of Liberty, baptized into a service of
blood. While yet young, his brother, an editor in Illinois, devoted
to the slave, fell a victim to the cause he served so well. His fate
awakened a wide sympathy throughout the country, drawing Channing from
his retirement to speak at Faneuil Hall, and touching with a living
coal the lips of Wendell Phillips, whose voice then and there, for
the first time, flamed forth against Slavery. It was natural that
Owen Lovejoy should assume those vows of perpetual warfare with the
tyrant murderer which he so truly kept,--tyrant murderer of a cherished
brother,--tyrant murderer of Liberty, not only on the plantation, but
everywhere throughout the land,--tyrant murderer of the Constitution,
which guards alike the rights of States and citizens,--and tyrant
murderer of national peace, without which there can be no true
prosperity or happiness. Thus, as a soldier of Liberty, he began, and
he kept his harness on to the last.

He was one of the most amiable of men, whose heart was abundant with
goodness and gentleness, and whose countenance streamed with sunshine.
But on this account he was only the more inexorable toward a wrong so
cruel in all its influences. A child of the New Testament, he was no
stranger to the early Hebrew spirit, and had little patience with those
who, born among Northern schools and churches, strove to arrest or
mitigate the doom of Slavery. The famous curse of Meroz, so solemnly
denounced against neutrality, which had been echoed from ancient Judea
by English Puritans in their great contest, found an echo in his heart:
“Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the
inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord,
to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”[109] Of course, in this
spirit he used plain words, and did not hesitate. But if he did not
hesitate, it was because he saw clearly the path of duty. Amiability
did not make him doubt. He was a positive man, of positive principles,
who knew well how much was always lost by timid counsels, especially on
great occasions. Because there were some about him who were skeptical
and irresolute, he was not disheartened, but preserved to the last
an example of fidelity which history will piously enshrine. His own
illustrations were from the sacred writings, but a heathen poet has
given a warning which is part of the lesson of his life:--

    “Old Priam’s age, or Nestor’s, may be out,
    And thou, O Taurus, still go on in doubt.
    Come, then, how long such wavering shall we see?
    Thou mayst doubt on; but then thou’lt nothing be.”[110]

Of all doubts, there are none more painful or indefensible than those
by which human rights are put in jeopardy.

He was a Representative of Illinois, born in Maine when Maine was
part of Massachusetts, which made him a connecting link between the
East and the West. The welcome he found in the West, and his complete
fellowship with that region, while his sympathies overflowed to his
early home, attest better than arguments the ligatures binding together
these different parts of our common Union; so that, hereafter, should
any malignant spirit seek to sow strife between us, his name alone will
be a standing protest against the alienation. Born in the East, he was
honored in the West. Honored in the West, he never lost his love for
the East. But the whole country, not excepting the South, had a home in
his patriotic, hospitable, and capacious heart. He hated Slavery; but
he loved his country in every part, with heart, soul, and mind.

He was of the Old Guard of Antislavery, and we bury him with the
honors that belong to such a soldier. Flags are at half-mast, and
funeral guns are sounding in our hearts. But from his new-made grave
he speaks now to the whole vast Republic, animating all good citizens
to labor as he labored and to live as he lived, that this land may be
redeemed. Especially does he speak to the State that honored him in
life, and to those associate States constituting the mighty Northwest,
where he found the home of his mature years,--Indiana, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota,--exhorting them to take up bravely and
without faltering the cause he made his own, that it may not lose by
his death. But, alas! the vigilance of many will be needed to supply
the place he filled.

Such a character must be mourned in Congress; but he will be mourned
throughout the country, at all those virtuous firesides where fathers,
mothers, brothers, and sisters speak of those who have helped human
happiness on earth. And there is another company, who cannot yet
pronounce his name, but, as they hear how truly he was their friend,
will rise to call him blessed. Already, unseen of men, in vast
uncounted procession, the slaves of the Union help to swell his funeral.



    March 30th, the Senate having under consideration a bill, that
    had already passed the House of Representatives, to provide
    a temporary government for the Territory of Montana, Mr.
    Wilkinson, of Minnesota, moved to amend the clause relating
    to persons entitled to vote and eligible to office, so that,
    instead of “every _white male inhabitant_,” it should read
    “every _free male citizen_ of the United States, and those who
    have declared their intention to become such.” Mr. Reverdy
    Johnson at once declared that “the effect of the amendment was
    to admit to the elective franchise in the proposed Territory
    black men as well as white,” and, after mentioning the number
    of Africans now in the United States, he proceeded to say
    that “it can hardly be seriously contended, that, of that
    four millions, such portion of them as have been in a state
    of slavery from infancy to the present time are intelligent
    enough, or likely to become intelligent enough, at once to
    exercise the right of suffrage”; and he anticipated another
    question, “just as likely to excite the public as the question
    of the existence of Slavery in itself.”

    March 31st, the amendment was adopted,--Yeas 22, Nays 17. The
    debate continuing, Mr. Johnson said that the term “citizen”
    was not applicable to “black men,” “because the Supreme
    Court of the United States has decided, and that question
    was directly before the Court in the Dred Scott case, that
    a person of African descent is not a citizen of the United
    States.” Mr. Wilkinson was willing it should stand according
    to his amendment, and let the decision of the Supreme Court be
    whatever it might. He wanted neither “white” nor “black” put
    into the bill. Mr. Sumner then remarked:--

        “I take it that each branch of the Government can interpret
        the Constitution for itself. I think that Congress is as
        good an authority in its interpretation as the Supreme
        Court, and I hope that in legislation it will proceed
        absolutely without respect to a decision which has
        disgraced the country, and ought to be expelled from its

    Mr. Johnson vindicated the Dred Scott decision at length, and
    made an elaborate eulogy of Chief Justice Taney. In the course
    of his remarks, he said: “There are many men, the equals of
    the honorable Senator, to say the least, intellectually, who
    think that that decision was anything but an outrage.… We
    have an interest, jurisprudence has an interest, justice has
    an interest, the nation has an interest, in maintaining the
    character of that tribunal against all unjust reproach. It is
    no light thing to pronounce a decision given by such a tribunal
    as that as a disgrace.… I cannot, therefore, stand still and
    hear a tribunal like that assailed, as I think unnecessarily,
    by anybody, and particularly by the honorable member from

    Mr. Sumner replied:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--The multiplication table tells us that two and two
make four. Now, if a tribunal honored like the Supreme Court should
undertake to declare that two and two make five, and a Senator
as distinguished as the Senator from Maryland should uphold the
high tribunal in its decision, I am not satisfied that it would be
presumptuous in me to call that decision in question. But the Dred
Scott decision was as absurd and irrational as such a reversal of the
multiplication table, besides shocking the moral sense of mankind. The
Senator will pardon the little scruple with which I denounce it. I
claim nothing for myself; I may be weak; but, according to the measure
of my abilities as God has given them to me, I enter a standing protest
against that atrocious judgment, which was false in law, and also false
in the history with which it sought to maintain its false law.

The Senator seems to imply that I am not familiar with the case. Sir,
I know it too well. I have read carefully the opinion of the Chief
Justice, which the Senator now vaunts, and I have read, also, the
opposing opinions, by the side of which that much vaunted opinion is
dwarfed into the pettiness proper to a production in such a cause,
ignoble in character, and impotent except in that little brief
authority incident to judicial rank. The Senator pleads for this
judgment in the name of jurisprudence, of justice, and of the nation.
Sir, by the same title I denounce it,--in the name of jurisprudence,
which it disgraces, of justice, which it denies, and of the nation it
has offended.

Among the influences and agencies that helped forward the present
Rebellion, and set fellow-citizens in bloody conflict with each other,
the Dred Scott decision must always be held in dismal memory. It gave
conspirators new confidence. It filled patriots for a while with
despair. It became the platform of Slavery, whose tyrannical behests
would have triumphed, had this decision been allowed to prevail. Hating
the Rebellion in its origin and all the circumstances that nursed it
into wicked being, we must hate this decision.

But the Senator wandered into eulogy of that old Supreme Court, now
departed, when Marshall was Chief Justice, and from the past claimed
consideration for the present. Sir, I have been no careless student of
that court in its great and palmy days. I know the learning, wisdom,
and ability of its judgments, and am proud that there are such pages in
the jurisprudence of my country. My sentiments toward the court of that
day are warmed, also, by personal experience. It is among the cherished
reminiscences of early life, that I was privileged to know, as a youth
might know, the illustrious magistrate whom the Senator praises so
well. He received me at his table, and allowed me to accompany him in
his morning walks to the court-room. He was a venerable character. But
I pray the Senator not to claim for the Dred Scott decision any of
the reverence justly belonging to his name. There is no question of
tribute to Chief Justice Marshall, or respect for the tribunal while he
presided over it. The Dred Scott decision is more noticed from contrast
with all that is good and great in the decisions of other days. It is
sad that the tribunal that had established such an authority among us
should do an act by which its authority has been endangered.

This whole debate is in the nature of a diversion or a deviation, and
therefore I bring it back to the precise point from which it started.
The Senator from Maryland invoked the Dred Scott decision as a reason
why Congress should not recognize colored persons as citizens. In reply
I simply asserted the right of Congress to interpret the Constitution
without constraint from the Supreme Court, and this I now repeat.
Each branch of the Government must interpret the Constitution for
itself, according to its own sense of obligation under the oath we have
all taken. And God forbid that Congress should consent to wear the
strait-jacket of the Dred Scott decision!

    Mr. Johnson closed his reply by saying: “And without meaning
    to offend the honorable member from Massachusetts, and with
    all the personal regard which I feel for him, and recollecting
    the courtesy that he has extended to me, and which I have
    reciprocated from the bottom of my heart, I say to him, without
    any purpose of offence, that, if I am obliged to act upon
    the weight of authority upon all questions of Constitutional
    Law, I shall prefer holding to the opinion of Taney than
    holding to the opinion of the honorable member.” Mr. Hale,
    of New Hampshire, after remarking that he differed from Mr.
    Sumner, said: “I do not believe that I think any better of
    that decision than he does. I think it was an outrage upon the
    civilization of the age and a libel upon the law; but I do not
    think it was a disgrace to the Supreme Court of the United
    States.” [_Laughter._]

    The bill passed,--Yeas 29, Nays 8.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The House of Representatives disagreed to the Senate amendment,
    and a Committee of Conference was ordered, which reported
    in its favor. But the House again disagreed, and, April
    15th, another Committee of Conference was appointed, under
    instructions, moved by Mr. Webster, of Maryland, “to agree
    to no report that authorizes any other than _free white
    male citizens_, and those who have declared their intention
    to become such, to vote.” The vote of the House on these
    instructions stood, Yeas 75, Nays 67. The Senate refused
    a further conference upon the terms proposed, which were
    abandoned by the House, and a conference without limitation was
    agreed to. May 19th, the Conference Committee reported, in lieu
    of the Senate amendment, the following clause: “All citizens of
    the United States, and those who have declared their intention
    to become such, and who are otherwise described and qualified
    under the fifth section of the Act of Congress providing for a
    temporary government for the Territory of Idaho, approved March
    3, 1863.” The reference to the Idaho Act required explanation,
    when the following dialogue took place.

        MR. SUMNER. I should like to know the nature of the
        substitute, if the Senator from Maine [Mr. MORRILL] will be
        good enough to state it.

        MR. MORRILL. I will state in a word that the effect of the
        amendment of the Committee of Conference is to authorize
        the temporary organization of the Government of Montana by
        that class of persons that were authorized to organize the
        Territory of Idaho.

        MR. SUMNER. What class of persons was that?

        MR. MORRILL. They were, as I recollect the qualification,
        white citizens of the United States, and such others as
        had declared their intention to become citizens. As it
        now stands, the qualification in Montana will be that the
        voters at the first election will be citizens of the United
        States, and such as have declared their intention to be
        citizens of the United States, and such as are qualified by
        the fifth section of the Act organizing the Territory of

        MR. SUMNER. That is, free white persons, I understand.

        MR. MORRILL. That is what it comes to.…

        MR. SUMNER. Is not the new proposition almost identical
        with the original House proposition on the question of

        MR. MORRILL. On the question of the exclusion of colored
        men it is identical. It does exclude colored men.

        MR. SUMNER. I understand that the point of difference
        between the two Houses was simply as to the word “white” or

        MR. MORRILL. That was the principal question, and on that
        point I desire to say precisely how the Committee found the

        MR. SUMNER. Then the proposition, as I understand it, is,
        that the Senate shall abandon its position. Why so? Because
        the House of Representatives will not abandon its position.

        MR. MORRILL. No, Sir, the Senator will allow me: because
        there did not seem to be any practical sense in adhering to
        it; because to adhere to it defeated the bill; because to
        adhere to it accomplished no earthly purpose, gave nobody
        any right.

        MR. SUMNER. For the other House to adhere on the other side
        defeated the bill also.

        MR. MORRILL. Yes.

        MR. SUMNER. And the question is, Which shall adhere, the
        side that is right or the side that is wrong?

        MR. MORRILL. And that is the question the Committee submit
        to the Senate.

        MR. SUMNER. I hope the Senate will adhere to its original
        position, and I believe that the assertion of that
        principle at this moment is more important than the bill.

    In the debate that ensued, Mr. Harlan said that he should
    “vote against the report of the Committee, chiefly, however,
    because he did not think there was a pressing necessity for
    the organization of another Territory in that part of our
    domain.” Mr. Sumner called attention to the Ordinance for the
    organization of the Northwest Territory, and then said:--

It will be observed that in this Ordinance, to which we so often refer
as a commanding authority, there is no discrimination of color. Now
I ask if this is not a good precedent. Like the present bill, it was
applicable to a vast unsettled Territory. Senators may say that our
fathers, in the Ordinance, were not practical. I am not of that number.
Senators may say that our fathers, in the Declaration of Independence,
were not practical. I am not of that number. Senators may say that our
fathers, in the Constitution of the United States, which contains no
discrimination of color, were not practical. I am not of that number.
Sir, I believe that the authors of this Ordinance, and the authors of
the Declaration of Independence, and the authors of the Constitution
were eminently practical, when they excluded from those instruments
any discrimination of color. But it is said that there are no persons
in the new Territory to whom the principle is now applicable. This
can make no difference. It is something to declare a principle, and I
cannot hesitate to say that at this moment the principle is much more
important than the bill. The bill may be postponed, but the principle
must not be postponed.

    MR. MORRILL. I will suggest to the Senator, if he will permit

MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

    --that the statement I made about its applicability was this:
    it is not by possibility applicable to any man of African
    descent. There are some five or six thousand Indians, to whom
    a bill in general phrase, without limitation of “white,” might
    possibly apply; I do not say that it would apply to them in
    this case.

MR. SUMNER. Practically, the subject-matter of this clause is not
Indians, but the well-known African race of this continent; and it
is proposed, by specious words wrapped up in a clause borrowed from
another bill, to exclude them from the right of suffrage in this
Territory; and the argument for this injustice, as my friend from New
Hampshire [Mr. HALE] has so ably stated, is only a reproduction of that
well-known ancient argument for Slavery in the Territories. How often
were we in those days compelled to encounter the charge that we were
not practical,--that we were urging a prohibition, when there was no
occasion for it! For myself, I believe you cannot too often assert a
prohibition of Slavery, nor too often assert human rights, wherever
they may be called in question; and especially do I believe in the
importance of such assertion when you are laying the foundations of a
new community. “Just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.” These
are familiar words of childhood. Would my friend from Maine have the
tree that he plants grow up with a generous and protecting shelter for
all mankind, or shall it be the bent and crabbed product of unhappy
prejudices which are only a growth of Slavery? I know my friend means
no such thing; but I insist that the policy he recommends tends to such
fatal end. For myself, Sir, I am satisfied with the Declaration of
Independence; I am satisfied with the Constitution on this important
subject; and, adopting the language of our Lieutenant-General in
the field, I desire to say, “I will fight on this line to the end,
even if it takes all summer.” There is no line better than that of
human rights. While fighting on that line, I cannot err; there is no
pertinacity too great; there is no ardor that is not respectable. I
thank General Grant for these words. They express his own steadfast
purpose, and we all thank him. But each, in his sphere, may make them
his own. I make them mine, wherever human rights are in question.

    The report of the Conference Committee was adopted,--Yeas 26,
    Nays 13. And so this first battle for colored suffrage was lost.



    April 14th, the Senate, after debate, ordered three thousand
    extra copies of this report,--Yeas 23, Nays 19. Mr. Reverdy
    Johnson, while urging the extra copies, remarked: “The report
    is quite an elaborate one, drawn up with all the fulness
    which characterizes papers of this description prepared by
    the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. He has
    collected together, very accurately, I have no doubt, all the
    facts connected with the claims. He has given the history
    of the proceedings in Congress and the proceedings of the
    Executive, and has examined very fully all the principles of
    law applicable to the questions which the claims present.”

    The same report was subsequently adopted by the Committee on
    Foreign Relations, and printed by the Senate, March 12, 1867,
    and also January 17, 1870.

  The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom were referred
      numerous petitions and resolutions of State Legislatures,
      taken from the files of the Senate, and also the petition of
      sundry citizens of New York, presented at the present session,
      asking just compensation for “individual” claims on France,
      appropriated by the United States to obtain release from
      important “national” obligations, have had the same under
      consideration, and beg leave to report.

The welfare of the Republic requires that there should he an end of
“suits,” lest, while men are mortal, these should be immortal. Such
is a venerable maxim of the law, illustrated by the case before the
Committee. The present claims have outlived all the original sufferers,
and at least two generations of those who have so ably enforced them in
the Halls of Congress. Against their unwonted vitality death has not
been able to prevail.


Of all claims in our history, these are most associated with great
events and great sacrifices. First in time, they are also first in
character, for they spring from the very cradle of the Republic and
the trials of its infancy. To comprehend them, you must know, first,
how independence was won, and, secondly, how, at a later day, peace
was assured. Other claims have been personal or litigious; these
are historic. Here were “individual” losses, felt at the time most
keenly, and constituting an unanswerable claim upon France, which,
at a critical moment, were employed by our Government, like a credit
or cash in hand, to purchase release from outstanding “national”
obligations, so that the whole country became at once trustee of
these sufferers, bound, of course, to gratitude for the means thus
contributed, but bound also to indemnify them against these losses.
And yet these sufferers, thus unique in situation, have been compelled
to see all other claims for foreign spoliations satisfied, while they
alone have been turned away. At the beginning of our history, our
plundered fellow-citizens obtained compensation to the amount of many
million dollars on account of British spoliations. Similar indemnities
have been obtained since from Spain, Naples, Denmark, Mexico, and the
South American states, while, by the famous Convention of 1831, France
contributed five million dollars to the satisfaction of spoliations
under the Continental system of Napoleon. Spain stipulated to pay for
every ship or cargo taken within Spanish waters, even by the French; so
that French spoliations on our commerce within Spanish waters have been
paid for, but French spoliations on our commerce elsewhere before 1800
are still unredeemed. Such has been the fortune of claimants the most
meritorious of all.

In all other cases there has been simply a claim for foreign
spoliations, but without superadded obligation on the part of our
Government. Here is a claim for foreign spoliations, the precise
counterpart of all other claims, but with superadded obligation, on
the part of our Government, in the nature of a debt, constituting an
_assumpsit_, or implied promise to pay; so that these sufferers are not
merely _claimants_ on account of French spoliations, but they are also
_creditors_ on account of a plain assumption by the National Government
of the undoubted liability of France. The appeal of these _creditor
claimants_ is enhanced beyond the pecuniary interests involved, when we
consider the nature of this assumption, and especially that in this way
our country obtained final release from embarrassing stipulations with
France contracted in the war for national independence. Regarding it,
therefore, as _debt_, it constitutes part of that sacred debt incurred
for national independence, and is the only part now outstanding and


Before proceeding to consider the nature of existing obligations on
the part of the United States, the Committee ask attention to three
objections which they encounter on the threshold: the first, founded
on the alleged antiquity of the original claims; the second, on the
alleged character of the actual possessors; and the third, on the
present condition of the country.


It is said that the claims are ancient and stale, and therefore not
to be entertained. It is true that the claims are the most ancient
of any now pending, and that they date from the very origin of our
existence as a nation. But in this respect they do not differ from
a Revolutionary pension or a Revolutionary claim. Down to this day
there is a standing committee of the Senate, entitled “Committee on
Revolutionary Claims”; but if a claim traced to the Revolution must be
rejected for staleness, there can be little use for this committee. If
these claims, after uninterrupted sleep throughout the long intervening
period, were now for the first time revived, they might be obnoxious to
this imputation. But, as from the beginning of the century they have
occupied the attention of Congress, and been sustained by speeches,
reports, and votes, it is impossible to say that they have been allowed
to sleep.

The whole case was stated with admirable succinctness, as long ago as
1807, by Mr. Marion, of South Carolina, in the report of a committee of
the House of Representatives.

    “From a mature consideration of the subject, and from the
    best judgment your Committee have been able to form on the
    case, _they are of opinion that this Government_, by expunging
    the second article of our Convention with France of the 30th
    September, 1800, _became bound to indemnify the memorialists
    for those just claims_ which they otherwise would rightfully
    have had on the Government of France, for the spoliations
    committed on their commerce by the illegal captures made
    by the cruisers and other armed vessels of that power, in
    violation of the Law of Nations, and in breach of treaties
    then existing between the two nations; which claims they
    were, by the rejection of the said article of the Convention,
    forever barred from preferring to the Government of France for

Claims thus authoritatively stated at that early day cannot be overcome
by any sleep.

It is true that these claims were pressed with less constancy and
determination at the beginning of the century than at a later day. But
there are two sufficient reasons for the change. First, the evidence
on which they are founded was less generally known at the beginning
than afterward. It was only in 1826, under the administration of John
Quincy Adams, by the communication to Congress of the ample materials
accumulated in the Archives of State, that the true strength of the
case was fully revealed. Here, in one full volume, was the documentary
history of the whole double transaction,[112] showing at once the
original obligation of France, and the substituted obligation of the
United States, reinforced by the associations of our own Revolutionary
history. A more sufficient reason for this change is found in the
fact, that for some time in the early part of the century our country
was still laboring under pressure of the Revolutionary debt. As this
pressure was gradually removed, and the national resources became more
apparent, these claims were naturally urged with more confidence,
until, on the final extinction of that debt, they occupied the
attention of the best minds in both Houses of Congress.

No single question in our history has been the subject of such a
succession of able reports. Whether counted or weighed, these reports
are equally exceptional. They are no less than forty-one in number,
twenty-two in the Senate and nineteen in the House. Among the eminent
characters whose names they bear are Edward Livingston, John Holmes,
Edward Everett, Daniel Webster, Caleb Gushing, Charles J. Ingersoll,
John M. Clayton, and Rufus Choate. Out of the whole number only three
have been adverse,--one in the Senate and two in the House. But the
three adverse reports were evasive only, besides being prior to the
communication of the decisive evidence on the subject. The thirty-six
reports since that communication were all in favor of the claims.[113]

Resolutions in favor of these claims by thirteen States, being the
original number which declared independence, have been presented to
Congress between the years 1832 and 1858. Some States, not content with
one series, have repeated their resolutions, and accompanied them with
elaborate arguments. They all tend to the conclusion that it is the
duty of Congress, without further delay, to provide for these claims;
and Senators and Representatives are earnestly requested to use their
best exertions for an Act of Congress to carry this obligation into

Memorials and petitions from the beginning testify to the sleeplessness
of these claims. On the 5th of February, 1802, only forty-six days
after the promulgation of the Convention of 1800, they began, and
they have continued from that early day down to this very session of
Congress, making in all four thousand six hundred and two. Of these,
nineteen hundred and thirty-one were in the Senate, two thousand six
hundred and seventy-one in the House. They are chiefly from original
sufferers, their executors, administrators, assigns, widows, and
heirs, residing in the large seaports from which the despoiled vessels
originally sailed; but there are some from all parts of the country,
where, in the vicissitudes of life, the representatives of original
sufferers have been carried,--all of which may be seen in the list of
these petitioners.[114]

Two several times--once under President Polk, and again under President
Pierce--both Houses of Congress concurred in an act for the relief of
these claimants; but this tardy justice was arrested by Presidential

In the face of this constant succession of reports, resolutions of
State Legislatures, and petitions, constituting not only “continual
claim,” but continual recognition of the claim,--the whole crowned by
two several Acts of Congress,--it is impossible to infer negligence in
the claimants, or, indeed, any assumption of inordinate confidence.
They have had good reason to believe that they should be successful.
Under such circumstances, the lapse of time, sometimes urged against
them, becomes an argument in their favor; for it adds constantly
recurring testimony to their merits, besides a new title from the
disappointment to which they have been doomed. Claims beginning thus
early, and thus sustained, may be ancient, but they cannot be stale.


A trivial remark, which is rather slur than objection, may justify
a moment’s attention. It is sometimes said that these claims are no
longer the property of the original sufferers or their representatives,
but that they have passed, like a fancy stock, into the hands of
speculators. This remark, if it had foundation in fact, has little
in equity. It would be hardly creditable for a government to take
advantage of its own procrastination, and refuse just compensation,
because the original sufferer had been compelled by unwelcome necessity
to discount his claims.

From the nature of the case, such claims, being unliquidated, do not
readily pass from hand to hand, but remain in the original custody, as
has become apparent in ample experience. Precisely the same reflection
was cast upon the claims against Spain, Denmark, and Naples,--and,
indeed, it is cast upon long outstanding claims generally, until
it has become a commonplace of sarcasm. The records of successive
Commissions which have liquidated foreign claims afford its best
refutation. In every case these Commissions required proof of property;
but the evidence disclosed that the original sufferers, or their legal
representatives, including heirs, executors, assignees of bankrupts,
persons having a lien for advances, or underwriters, possessing in
law and equity the same right as the original sufferers, were actual
possessors of the larger part. There is no reason to suppose that it
would be otherwise with the claims for French spoliations. On the
contrary, it is believed that they remain substantially unchanged,
except by legal inheritance.

The great speculator has been Death; for there are few of these claims
that have not passed through his hands. Such a transfer cannot draw
the title into doubt, especially when we consider the character of the
petitioners whose names are spread on the journals of Congress. It is
well known that in many families these claims still exist as heirlooms,
transmitted by ancestral care in full confidence that sooner or later
they will be recognized by the Government.


It is sometimes suggested, that, even assuming the meritorious
character of these claims, yet, in the present condition of the
country, they ought to be postponed. Looking at the practical
consequences of this suggestion, it will be found, that, though
plausible in _form_, it is fatal in _substance_. Any postponement must
inevitably throw these claims into direct competition with those now
accumulating on account of losses during the Rebellion, having in their
favor the swelling sympathies of our time. It is not unjust to human
nature, if the Committee say that the distant in time, like the distant
in space, is too often out of mind. If the earlier claims are just,
they should not be exposed to the hazards of any such competition, when
feeling will be stronger than reason. From the probability of future
claims, whose shadows already commence, the argument is strengthened
for the immediate satisfaction of those now existing, especially when
we consider their character and origin.

The resources of the people are tasked to put down the Rebellion which
Slavery has aroused. Let nothing be stinted. But there is another duty
not to be forgotten. _The just debts of the Republic must be paid_, to
the last dollar. Here, also, nothing must be stinted; and the glory of
the one will be kindred to the glory of the other. The Republic will
have new title to love at home and to honor abroad, when with one hand
it overcomes the Rebellion now menacing its existence, and with the
other does justice to ancient petitioners, long neglected, constituting
the only remaining creditors left to us from the War of Independence.


Therefore, putting aside all preliminary objections from alleged
antiquity, from the character of the actual possessors, or from the
present condition of the country, the Committee insist that the present
obligations of the United States must be determined according to
principles of justice and the facts of the case. The hearing now is as
if there had been no lapse of time since the obligations accrued, and
as if no war now existed to task the country.

Is the money justly due? To answer this question, the subject must be
considered in detail, under several heads.

_First._ Claims of citizens of the United States against France,
founded on spoliations of our commerce, as seen in their origin and

_Secondly._ Counter claims of France, founded on treaty stipulations
and services rendered in the War of Independence, also as seen in their
origin and history.

_Thirdly._ The Convention of 1800 and the reciprocal release of the two
Governments, by which the “individual” claims of the petitioners were
treated as a set-off to the “national” claims of France.

_Fourthly._ The assumption by our Government of the obligations of
France, so that the United States were substituted for France, and
became liable to these petitioners as France had been liable.

After considering these heads in their order, it will be proper to
review the objections alleged against the liability of the United
States: (1.) from the semi-hostile relations between France and the
United States anterior to the Convention; (2.) from payments under
the Louisiana Treaty; (3.) from payments under the Convention with
France in 1831; (4.) from the Act of Congress annulling the early
treaties with France; (5.) from the early efforts of our Government to
obtain from France the satisfaction of these claims; and (6.) from the
desperate character attributed to these claims at the time of their

The question of “just compensation” will present itself last: (1.) in
the advantages secured to the United States by the sacrifice of these
claims; (2.) in the value of the losses which the claimants suffered;
and (3.) in the recommendation of the Committee.

The subject is of such importance, from the magnitude of interests
involved, and from its historic character, that the minuteness of this
inquiry will not be regarded as superfluous.



The history of French spoliations on our commerce is a gloomy chapter,
where a friendly power, assuming the name of Republic, shows itself
fitful, passionate, and unjust. This conduct is more remarkable, when
it is considered, that, only a short time before, France, while yet
a kingdom, contributed treasure and blood to sustain our national
independence. And yet an explanation may be found in the extraordinary
temper of the times. By a generous uprising of the people the
kingdom was overthrown, and then, as the alarmed royalties of Europe
intervened, the head of the monarch was flung to them as a gage of
battle. The gage had been accepted in advance, and all those royalties,
by successive treaties, entered into coalition against France. The
fleets of England came tardily into the great contest, but their
presence gave to it a new character, and enveloped ocean as well as
land in its flames. The growing commerce of the United States suffered
from both sides, but especially from France, driven to frenzy by the
British attempt, in the exercise of belligerent rights, to starve a
whole nation.

French feelings were still further aroused against the United States,
when, instead of friendship and alliance, France was encountered by the
Proclamation of Neutrality launched by Washington on the 22d April,
1793, where he undertook, in behalf of the United States, to “adopt
and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent
powers.”[115] Here, according to France, was a failure not only of
that proper sympathy due from us, but even of solemn duties pledged by
those early treaties which helped to secure the national independence.
This failure, which became afterward the occasion of counter claims,
contributed to the exasperations of the time.

An early apology, addressed to the American minister at Paris by
the French Government, attests the spoliations which had begun, and
discloses also their indefensible character, unless the common language
spoken by the English and ourselves was a sufficient excuse. Here are
the exact words:--

    “We hope that the Government of the United States will
    attribute to their true cause the abuses of which you complain,
    as well as other violations of which our cruisers may render
    themselves guilty in the course of the present war. _It must
    perceive how difficult it is to contain within just limits the
    indignation of our marines, and, in general, of all the French
    patriots, against a people who speak the same language and
    having the same habits as the free Americans._ The difficulty
    of distinguishing our allies from our enemies has often been
    the cause of offences committed on board your vessels; all that
    the Administration could do is to order indemnification to
    those who have suffered, and to punish the guilty.”[116]

Thus recklessly did these spoliations begin. The National Convention
associated itself with this injustice, when, on the 9th May, 1793,
only seventeen days after the Proclamation of Neutrality, but before
it had arrived in France, a retaliatory decree was issued in response
to the British attempt at starvation,--arresting all neutral vessels
laden with provisions and destined to an enemy port. The decree itself
did not disguise that it was a violation of neutral rights; but
the necessity of the hour was pleaded, _and indemnity was promised
to neutrals suffering by its operation_.[117] Unwilling to await
the dilatory performance of this promise, our minister at Paris
remonstrated against the application of the decree to vessels of the
United States. Amidst vacillations of the National Convention, which,
under the urgency of our minister, at one time seemed to relent, the
decree continued to be enforced against property of American citizens.
Here were spoliations, confessed at the time to be in violation of
neutral rights, which still rise in judgment.

As this intelligence reached the United States, our whole commerce
was fluttered. Merchants hesitated to expose ships and cargoes to
such cruel hazards. It was necessary that something should be done to
enlist again their activity. The National Government _came forward
voluntarily_, with assurance of protection and redress, in a circular
letter, dated 27th August, 1793, when Mr. Jefferson, the Secretary of
State, in the name of the President, used the following language: “I
have it in charge from the President to assure the merchants of the
United States concerned in foreign commerce or navigation, that due
attention will be paid to any injuries they may suffer on the high seas
or in foreign countries, contrary to the Law of Nations or to existing
treaties, and that, on their forwarding hither well-authenticated
evidence of the same, _proper proceedings will be adopted for their
relief_.”[118] This circular was confirmed by President Washington,
in his message of December 5, 1793, where he speaks as follows: “The
_vexations and spoliation_ understood to have been committed on our
vessels and commerce by the cruisers and officers of some of the
belligerent powers appeared to require attention. The proofs of these,
however, not having been brought forward, the description of citizens
supposed to have suffered were notified, that, on furnishing them to
the Executive, _due measures would be taken to obtain redress of the
past_ and more effectual provisions against the future.”[119] Here,
then, was a double promise from the National Government, and under
its encouragement our merchants resumed their commerce, venturing
once more upon the ocean. Their Government had tempted them, and, on
the occurrence of “injuries on the high seas,” these good citizens,
according to instructions, made haste to lodge with the Department of
State the “well-authenticated evidence of the same.” Their children and
grandchildren are waiting, even now, the promised redress.

Thus, at the very beginning, these spoliations were recognized by
both Governments in their true character. The National Convention,
even in its arbitrary edict, confessed them. The Administration of
Washington, in its solemn assurance of protection, also confessed them.
Offspring of wrongful violence in the heat of war, they were regarded
on both sides as indefensible. Ministers, in this respect, reflected
the sentiments of the two Governments. Fauchet, the French minister at
Philadelphia, in a communication to the Secretary of State, under date
of March 27, 1794, expressed himself in this manner: “If any of your
merchants have suffered any injury by the conduct of our privateers,
(a thing which would be contrary to the intention and express orders
of the Republic,) they may with confidence address themselves to the
French Government, which will never refuse justice to those whose
claims shall be legal.”[120] Mr. Morris, our minister at Paris, under
date of March 6, 1794, gave vent to his feelings: “These captures
create great confusion, _must produce much damage to mercantile men_,
and are a source of endless and well-founded complaint. Every post
brings me piles of letters about it from all quarters, and I see no
remedy.… In the mean time, if I would give way to the clamors of the
injured parties, I ought to make demands very like a declaration of
war.”[121] But M. Buchot, the French Commissioner of Foreign Relations,
addressed Mr. Morris the following soothing words, under date of July
5, 1794: “The sentiments of the Convention and of the Government
towards your fellow-citizens are too well known to you to leave a doubt
of _their dispositions to make good the losses which the circumstances
inseparable from a great revolution may have caused some American
navigators to experience_.”[122] Such was the testimony, at that day,
of ministers on both sides.

Meanwhile, Genet, the French minister, was recalled, at the instance
of President Washington, on account of presumptuous interference in
our affairs, especially hostile to the Proclamation of Neutrality; and
John Jay reached London to negotiate the treaty of 1794 which goes
under his name. The latter event added to the exasperation of France.
But Mr. Monroe, who took the place of Mr. Morris at Paris, was full
of sympathy for the new republic, even when he frankly discharged
his unpleasant duties. In a communication to the Committee of Public
Safety, under date of October 18, 1794, he exposed “a frightful picture
of difficulties and losses, equally injurious to both countries, and
which, if suffered to continue, will unavoidably interrupt for the
time the commercial intercourse between them.”[123] Notwithstanding
this strong language, his influence was thought to have prevailed so
far that President Washington ventured to announce, in a confidential
message of February 28, 1795, good news for our plundered merchants.
“It affords me,” he said, “the highest pleasure to inform Congress
that perfect harmony reigns between the two republics, _and that those
claims are in a train of being discussed with candor, and of being
amicably adjusted_.”[124] This perfect harmony was short-lived, and the
hopes flowering from it were nipped.

The rumor of Mr. Jay’s negotiations with England had already produced
uneasiness in France; but when the treaty, on its ratification, in
October, 1795, was finally divulged, there was an outburst against us.
The treaty was pronounced to be in violation of existing engagements
with France, and our whole policy was openly branded by the President
of the Directory, in reply to Mr. Monroe, as a “condescension of the
American Government to the wishes of its ancient tyrants.”[125] The
Directory refused to receive Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, sent by our
Government in place of James Monroe. Meanwhile, by a succession of
cruel edicts, it unleashed all its cruisers to despoil our commerce,
and cry havoc wherever they sailed. On the 2d July, 1796, it was
declared that “the French Republic will treat neutral vessels, either
as to confiscation, as to searches, or capture, _in the same manner
as they shall suffer the English to treat them_.”[126] The indefinite
terms of this edict were justly denounced by our Government, as “giving
scope for arbitrary constructions, and consequently for unlimited
oppression and vexation.”[127] These results were soon manifest. With
contagious injustice, the French commissioners at San Domingo reported
to the Government at home, “that, having found no resource in finance,
and knowing the unfriendly disposition of the Americans, and to avoid
perishing in distress, they had armed for cruising, and that already
eighty-seven cruisers were at sea, and that for three months preceding
the Administration had subsisted and individuals been enriched with
the products of those prizes.”[128] So extensively did this brutality
prevail, that it was announced that American vessels “no longer entered
the French ports, _unless carried in by force_.”[129]

This spirit of hostility broke forth in another edict of the
Directory, which became at once a universal scourge to American
commerce. This fulmination, bearing date March 2, 1797, after
enlarging the list of contraband, and ordaining other measures of
rigor, proceeds to declare all American vessels lawful prize, if
found without a _rôle d’équipage_, or _circumstantial list_ of the
crew:[130] all of which was in violation of existing treaties, and also
of American usage, which notoriously did not require, among a ship’s
papers, any such list. No edict was so comprehensive in its sweep;
for, as all our vessels were without this safeguard, they were all
defenceless. Numberless spoliations ensued, so absolutely lawless and
unjust that John Marshall did not hesitate to record of them in his
journal, under date of December 17, 1797, “The claims of the American
citizens for property captured and condemned for want of a _rôle
d’équipage_” constituted “_as complete a right as any individuals ever
possessed_.”[131] This right, thus complete, according to the judgment
of our great authority, enters into a large part of the claims still
pending before Congress.

As if to perfect this strange, eventful history, a third edict, at
once inhospitable and unjust, was launched by the Directory, January
18, 1798, prohibiting “every foreign vessel which in the course of her
voyage shall have entered into an English port from being admitted
into a port of the French Republic, except in case of necessity,” and,
still further, handing over to condemnation “every vessel found at sea
loaded in whole or in part with merchandise the production of England
or of her possessions.”[132] This edict was promptly denounced by the
American plenipotentiaries newly arrived at Paris. In earnest, vigorous
tones, they said that it invaded at the same time the interests and
the independence of neutral powers,--_that it took from them the
profits of an honest and lawful industry_, as well as the inestimable
privilege of conducting their own affairs as their own judgment might
direct,--and that acquiescence in it would establish a precedent for
national degradation, authorizing any measures power might be disposed
to practise.[133] Our plenipotentiaries depicted the spirit in which
French spoliations had their origin, and the humiliating consequences
of submission to the outrage; but the personal sufferers are, down to
this day, without redress.

Perplexed and indignant, the United States constituted a special
mission of three eminent citizens, Mr. Pinckney, Mr. Marshall, and Mr.
Gerry, who were charged to secure indemnity for these spoliations.
In his elaborate instructions, dated July 15, 1797, the Secretary of
State, Mr. Pickering, lays down the following rule of conduct: “In
respect to the depredations on our commerce, the principal objects
will be to agree on an equitable mode of examining and deciding
the claims of our citizens, and the manner and periods of making
them compensation.… The proposed mode of adjusting those claims, by
commissioners appointed on each side, is so perfectly fair, we cannot
imagine that it will be refused.” Although this reparation was not
made “an indispensable condition of the proposed treaty,” yet the
plenipotentiaries were enjoined “not to renounce these claims of our
citizens, _nor to stipulate that they be assumed by the United States
as a loan to the French Government_.”[134] Thus fully were these claims
recognized at the time by our Government, and most carefully placed
under the protection of our plenipotentiary triumvirate.

The triumvirate found the French Republic in no mood of justice.
Bonaparte was then triumphant at the head of the army of Italy, and
Talleyrand was exhibiting his remarkable powers at the head of the
foreign relations of France. Victory had given confidence, and the
exulting Republic was standing tiptoe, more disposed to strike than
negotiate, unless it could dictate, and implacable always towards
England and all supposed to sympathize with that power. After exactions
and humiliations hard to bear, the plenipotentiaries were compelled
to return home without any official reception by the intoxicated
Government to which they were accredited, but not before they had
encountered the masterly ability of Talleyrand, who, in reply to their
statement of the claims of the United States, presented the counter
claims of France. Though in Paris merely on sufferance, they had
unofficial interviews with various agents of the Republic, and even
with Talleyrand himself; but without dwelling on details not pertinent
to the occasion, it is enough to say, that, while refusing to offer
a loan or bribe, they were able to declare frankly “that France had
taken violently from America more than fifteen millions of dollars,
and treated us in every respect as enemies”;[135] and also to receive
from Talleyrand a concession, recorded in one of their despatches, that
“some of those claims were probably just,” with the inquiry, “whether,
if they were acknowledged by France, we could not give a credit as to
the payment,--say, for two years?”[136] Here again was an admission not
to be forgotten.

The return of our disappointed plenipotentiaries was aggravated by
circumstances which an eminent Continental writer has not hesitated
to brand as “unique in the annals of diplomacy.”[137] They had been
invited to contribute a _gratification_ of twelve hundred thousand
francs, and the whole desperate intrigue, conducted by persons known
in the correspondence as W, X, Y, Z, was unveiled to the world. The
country was indignant, and war seemed imminent. By various acts of
legislation Congress entered upon preparations, summoning Washington
from retirement to gird on his sword once more as Lieutenant-General.
The claims for French spoliations were never absent from mind. By
Act of the 28th May, 1798, public vessels of the United States were
authorized to capture all “armed vessels sailing under authority or
pretence of authority from the Republic of France,” “_which shall
have committed_, or which shall be found hovering on the coasts of
the United States for the purpose of committing, _depredations on
the vessels belonging to citizens thereof_”; and this statute was
introduced by a preamble asserting “_depredations on the commerce
of the United States_, … in violation of the Law of Nations and
treaties between the United States and the French nation.” By Act of
June 13, 1798, all commercial intercourse was suspended between the
United States and France, until “the Government of France … shall
clearly disavow, and shall be found to refrain from, _the aggressions,
depredations, and hostilities which have been and are by them
encouraged and maintained against the vessels and other property of
the citizens of the United States_.” By Act of June 25, 1798, merchant
vessels of the United States were authorized to resist search or
seizure by any French armed vessel, to repel assaults, and to capture
the aggressors, until “the Government of France … shall disavow, and
shall cause the commanders and crews of all armed French vessels _to
refrain from, the lawless depredations and outrages hitherto encouraged
and authorized by that Government against the merchant vessels of the
United States_.” By Act of July 7, 1798, the treaties with France were
declared to be no longer obligatory on the United States; and this
statute was introduced by a preamble asserting that “_the just claims
of the United States for reparation of injuries_ have been refused, and
their attempts to negotiate an amicable adjustment of all complaints
between the two nations have been repelled with indignity.” Thus, by
express words, in repeated acts, did Congress recognize these claims.

By such vigorous measures were the rights of these claimants asserted,
while the country assumed an attitude of defence. The French Directory
became less intolerable, and negotiations were invited again, with
assurance that the former rudeness should not be renewed. John Adams
was President, and for the sake of peace he seized the opportunity of
this overture, by appointing Chief Justice Ellsworth, Patrick Henry,
and William Vans Murray as a second plenipotentiary triumvirate to
France. As Mr. Henry declined, Mr. Davie, of North Carolina, was
substituted in his place. In adjusting the instructions President Adams
himself took a personal part, as appears by a letter to the Secretary
of State, where he says: “The principal points, _indeed all the
points_, of the negotiation were so minutely considered and _approved
by me and all the heads of department_ that nothing remains but to
put them into form and dress: this service I pray you to perform as
promptly as possible.”[138] But “all the points” were three only: 1st,
Indemnity for spoliations of American commerce; 2d, The unquestionable
wrong of seizing American vessels for want of the paper known to
French law as _rôle d’équipage_; 3d, The refusal to renew the treaty
guaranty of the French West Indies. Such were the _ultimata_ originally
settled by the President and his cabinet on the 11th of March, 1799,
and afterwards fully developed in the elaborate instructions of Mr.
Pickering, dated 22d October, 1799, which, after announcing that “the
conduct of the French Republic would well have justified an immediate
declaration of war on the part of the United States,” proceeded to
declare, as the first point, that the plenipotentiaries, “_at the
opening of the negotiation_, will inform the French ministers that the
United States expect from France, _as an indispensable condition of the
treaty_, a stipulation to make to the citizens of the United States
_full compensation for all losses and damages_ which they shall have
sustained by reason of irregular or illegal captures or condemnations
of their vessels and other property.” And the instructions end, as
they began, by declaring, first among the terms, “that an article be
inserted for establishing a board with suitable powers to hear and
determine the claims of our citizens, _and binding France to pay or
secure payment of the sums which shall be awarded_.”[139] Observe the
positiveness of the assertion.

These instructions attest the interest of our Government. Placed first
among the _ultimata_ adopted in the councils of President Adams, these
indemnities were placed first in the diplomatic instructions. There is
yet other evidence of the character and amount of the spoliations. The
Secretary of State, in a report to Congress, dated January 18, 1799,
after attributing them to French feeling on account of the British
treaty, proceeds to characterize them in remarkable words: “Yet that
treaty had been made by the French Government its chief pretence for
those unjust and cruel depredations on American commerce which have
brought distress on multitudes and ruin on many of our citizens, and
occasioned _a total loss of property to the United States of probably
more than twenty millions of dollars_.”[140] Such were the outrages for
which our plenipotentiaries were to seek redress.

The Directory had ceased; but on reaching Paris the plenipotentiaries
were cordially received by Talleyrand, the citizen minister of Foreign
Affairs, who without delay presented them to the First Consul as he
was about to mount for that wonderful campaign which, opening with the
passage of the Alps, closed at Marengo. Negotiations commenced at once,
Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of the First Consul, and afterward King
of Spain, being at the head of the commission on the part of France.
“Appreciating,” as they announced, “the value of time,” the American
plenipotentiaries, in a brief note, on the 7th of April,--the very day
when the exchange of powers was completed,--proposed “an arrangement
_to ascertain and discharge the equitable claims of the citizens_ of
either nation upon the other, whether founded on contract, treaty,
or the Law of Nations”; all of which was to be done in order “to
satisfy the demands of justice, and render a reconciliation cordial
and permanent.”[141] Thus instantly were these claims presented. The
French plenipotentiaries in their prompt reply admitted that “_the
first object_ of the negotiation ought to be the determination of the
regulations, and the steps to be followed, for _the estimation and
indemnification of injuries for which either nation may make claim for
itself_ or for any of its citizens.”[142] Here was the suggestion of
claims, not only “individual,” but also “national,” under which loomed
the counter claims of France.

The American plenipotentiaries, while professing to be free from
“apprehension of an unfavorable _balance_,” protested against the
consideration of any “national” claims until some “convenient
stage of the negotiation, after it shall be seen what arrangement
would be acceptable for _the claims of citizens_.”[143] The French
plenipotentiaries rejoined by enforcing “national” as well as
“individual” claims.[144] The issue seemed to be made. On the one side
were the “individual” claims of American citizens, on the other side
the “national” claims of France. The American plenipotentiaries were
not authorized to recognize the “national” claims alone. The French
plenipotentiaries were not authorized to recognize the “individual”
claims, without a previous recognition on our part of the “national”
claims. At last, after various efforts at harmony, it was officially
announced that “the negotiation was at a stand on the part of France,”
as her plenipotentiaries were constrained by instructions of the First
Consul to make “the acknowledgment of former treaties the basis of
negotiation _and the condition of compensation_.”[145] The First Consul
was then on the Italian slope of the Alps, about to pounce upon the
astonished Austrians. Claims and counter claims were of little concern
to him.

Thus far the Committee have exhibited our claims in their origin and
history. The time has come to change the scene, and to exhibit those
counter claims which played such part in the successive negotiations,
and finally produced that memorable _dead-lock_, when the two powers
stood face to face with antagonist pretensions, unable to go forward,
and unwilling to go backward.



The counter claims of France differ widely from the claims of American
citizens. They were not “individual,” but “national,” being founded
on alleged violations of treaty stipulations assumed by the United
States in return for the aid of France in the establishment of national
independence. During the protracted controversy between the two
republics they were detailed in numerous official notes; but they were
brandished by Talleyrand, with offensive skill and effect, in the very
faces of our insulted plenipotentiaries, under date of March 18, 1798,
when, while driving them from Paris, he insisted “_that the priority of
grievances and complaints belonged to the French Republic_,” and “that
these complaints and these grievances were as real as numerous, long
before the United States had the least grounded claim to make.”[146]
Careful inquiry enables us to see that this allegation, thus
confidently uttered, was not without a certain foundation; and here we
revert to the history of our country.

The triumph with which the War of Independence happily ended came
tardily, after seven years of battle, suffering, and exhaustion; but
it was hastened, if not assured, by the generous alliance of France.
From Bunker Hill to Saratoga the war was checkered with gloom, which
even the surrender of Burgoyne did not suffice to dispel. Then came
the dreary winter of Valley Forge, when soldiers of Washington, after
treading the snows barefoot, were obliged, for want of blankets,
to huddle all night by the fires, and even the stout heart of the
commander-in-chief bent so far as to announce, in formal letter to
Congress, that, “unless some great and capital change suddenly takes
place, the army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these
three things,--starve, dissolve, or disperse.”[147] But the scene
changed with the glad tidings that France, by solemn treaty, signed
by Franklin, February 6, 1778, had bound herself to “guaranty to the
United States their liberty, sovereignty, and independence, absolute
and unlimited.” The camp broke forth with the mingled joy of soldier
and patriot, as it turned gratefully to Lafayette, already by the side
of Washington, glorious forerunner of armies and navies promised to our
cause. Congress took up the strain, and, by unanimous vote, ratified
the treaty which opened to our country the gates of the Future.

It is difficult to estimate the value of this treaty in money,
especially when we consider its consequences. According to the report
of Calonne, the French Minister of Finance, the war which ensued in
the support of this guaranty cost France fourteen hundred and forty
millions of francs, or about two hundred and eighty millions of
dollars. But French blood, more costly than money, was shed on land and
sea in the same cause, until at last the army of Cornwallis surrendered
at Yorktown to the allied forces of Rochambeau and Washington, and the
war closed by the recognition of our national independence. If liberty
be priceless, if life be priceless, then was the aid lavished by France
infinite beyond calculation.

The engagements were not all on the side of France. Beyond gratitude
due for this powerful alliance, were express obligations solemnly
assumed by the United States, not only in the Treaty of Alliance,
but also in the Treaty of Amity and Commerce negotiated on the same
day. These obligations, constituting the consideration of the weighty
contract, were of two classes: first, a guaranty by the United States
of the possessions of France in America; and, secondly, important
privileges for the armed ships of France, with a promise of American
convoy to French commerce.

1. The terms of the guaranty are as follows:--

    “The two parties guaranty, _mutually_, from the present time
    _and forever_, against all other powers, to wit: The United
    States to His Most Christian Majesty, _the present possessions
    of the crown of France in America_, as well as those which
    it may acquire by the future treaty of peace; and His Most
    Christian Majesty guaranties, on his part, to the United
    States, _their liberty_, _sovereignty_, _and independence,
    absolute and unlimited_, as well in matters of government as
    commerce, and also their possessions, and the additions or
    conquests that their Confederation may obtain during the war
    from any of the dominions now or heretofore possessed by Great
    Britain in North America.”[148]

To fix more precisely the sense of this article, it was further
stipulated, that,--

    “_In case of a rupture_ between France and England, the
    reciprocal guaranty shall have its full force and effect the
    moment such war shall break out; and if such rupture shall
    not take place, the mutual obligations of the said guaranty
    shall not commence until the moment of the cessation of the
    present war between the United States and England shall have
    ascertained their possessions.”[149]

The possessions of France in America at this date were the islands
of San Domingo, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Bartholomew,
Deseada, Mariegalante, St. Pierre, Miquelon, and, on the main-land,
Cayenne,--each and all of which the United States guarantied to France
_forever_, being a _continuing guaranty_, so far as this term of law
is applicable to an international transaction, which, beginning “in
case of a rupture between France and England,” was operative after “the
cessation of the present war between the United States and England,”
and was to continue “forever.”

The terms of the “guaranty” are general, and it was “forever.” Even if
limited to _defensive_ war, it would be difficult to say that France
was not engaged in such a war, with the added incident that it was
a war by a combination of kings to overcome a republic. France was
alone, with the royalties of Europe embattled against her. Only after
the execution of the King England joined this array, lending to it
invincible navies. But, according to official avowals, it was what King
George called “the atrocious act recently perpetrated at Paris”[150]
that finally prompted the part she undertook, and her real object, in
the language of Mr. Fox, was no other than “the destruction of the
internal Government of France.”[151] The case was unprecedented; but
it is difficult to say that it did not come under the “guaranty.” The
_casus fœderis_ had occurred. If France did not exact performance,
that is no reason why our obligations should be disowned, when, at the
present moment, we are trying to arrive at some appreciation of their
extent. A careful examination of the treaty shows that the “guaranty”
became primarily obligatory on the occurrence of _a rupture between
France and England_. Nothing is said or suggested as to the character
of the war, whether offensive or defensive. It is enough that there
was “a rupture.” In such a case, the “guaranty,” according to the
illustration of Cicero, was, _tanquam gladius in vagina_, at the
disposal of France. Our Secretary of State, even while seeking to limit
its application, seems to have seen it prospectively in this light,
when, in his instructions of July 15, 1797, to our plenipotentiaries,
Messrs. Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, he said, “Our guaranty of the
possessions of France in America will perpetually expose us to the
risk and expense of war, or to disputes and questions concerning our
national faith.”[152]

2. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce contained a succession of
mutual stipulations, by which the United States undertook,--_first_,
to protect and defend by their ships of war, or convoy, any or all
vessels belonging to French subjects, so long as they hold the same
course, “against all attacks, force, and violence, in the same manner
as they ought to protect and defend” the vessels of citizens of the
United States;[153] _secondly_, to open their ports to French ships
of war and privateers with their prizes, and to close them against
those of any power at war with France, except when driven by stress of
weather, and then “all proper means shall be vigorously used that they
go out and retire from thence as soon as possible”;[154] _thirdly_,
according to French construction, to allow French privateers “to fit
their ships, to sell what they have taken, or in any other manner
whatsoever to exchange their ships, merchandise, or any other lading,”
while privateers in enmity with France are forbidden even to victual
in ports of the United States.[155] As if to round and complete these
engagements, it was further stipulated on the part of the United
States, in a Consular Convention, which, after many perplexities of
diplomacy baffling the tried skill of Franklin, was finally signed by
Mr. Jefferson, in 1788, as a postscript to the earlier treaties, that
French consuls and vice-consuls in the United States should have power
and jurisdiction on board French vessels in civil matters, with the
entire inspection over such vessels, their crews, and the changes and
substitutions there to be made.[156]

Such, briefly recited, were the solemn engagements of the United
States, sanctioned by treaties, as the price of independence. So
long as France remained at peace with all the world, especially with
Great Britain, these engagements slept unnoticed, but ready, at the
first blast of war, to spring into life. At length the blast was
heard, perhaps as never before in human history, echoing from capital
to capital, and sounding a crusade of monarchical Europe against
republican France. Of all the foreign ministers at Paris, the minister
of the United States alone remained: the rest had fled.

The minister of the United States saw the danger lowering upon his own
country. In a letter to the Secretary of State, dated December 21,
1792, after presenting a rapid sketch of the rising of Europe against
France, he adds: “The circumstance of a war with Britain becomes
important to us in more cases than one”; and he then alludes to “the
question respecting the _guaranty_ of American possessions, especially
if France should attempt to defend her islands.”[157] Notoriously,
Gouverneur Morris sympathized little with the French Republic, but,
against all arguments for non-compliance with our original engagements,
because the Government with which they were made had ceased to exist,
his sensitive nature broke forth in the “wish that all our treaties,
however onerous, may be strictly fulfilled according to their true
intent and meaning,” which he followed in language foreign to the
phrases of diplomacy, by picturing “the honest nation as that which,
like the honest man,

    ‘Hath to its plighted faith and vow forever firmly stood;
    And though it promised to its loss, yet makes that promise good.’”[158]

In harmony with this exclamation of the plenipotentiary are the words
of Vattel, an authority much quoted at the time: “To refuse an ally the
succors we owe him, without any good ground of dispensation, is doing
him an injury, … and there being a natural obligation to repair the
damage caused by our fault, and especially by our injustice, we are
bound to indemnify an ally for all the losses he may have sustained
from our unjust refusal.”[159]

Since the signature of the treaties times had changed, and men had
changed with them. There was no bad faith on either side, in the
ordinary sense of the term, but intervening events and exigencies
of self-defence had driven each into unexpected inconsistencies of
conduct. If on one side there was neglect of original engagements,
there was on the other equal neglect of international duties. The
tornado in mad career uprooted old landmarks, and each was striving
to find new lines of reciprocal relations. Franklin, signing the
“guaranty,” did not expect so soon to call down upon his country the
lightnings of an embattled world; nor did France, while formally
conceding neutral rights on the ocean and assuring our national
independence, expect so soon to become the plunderer of our commerce.
But the great tragedy would have been less complete, if its domineering
Nemesis had suffered the two republics to dwell in harmony together.
They were whirled, on each side, into those questionable acts out of
which have sprung the claims and counter-claims now under consideration.

A new French minister was at hand, accredited to President Washington,
with fresh instructions. Differences on the obligations of the guaranty
appeared in the Cabinet,--some holding that no necessity for decision
existed, as France had made no demand,--and others, that, the Treaty of
Alliance being plainly defensive, the guaranty did not apply to a war
begun by France. After ample discussion, the Proclamation of Neutrality
was adopted, April 22, 1793, destined to become a turning-point in our
history. Chief Justice Marshall, whose opportunities of information
were unquestionable, lets us know that the Proclamation “was intended
to prevent the French minister from demanding _the performance of the
guaranty contained in the Treaty of Alliance_.”[160] But before the
Proclamation reached France, orders were issued there for the capture
and confiscation of enemy goods on board neutral vessels; whereas it
was stipulated with the United States that free ships should make free
goods; so that, even if the denial of the guaranty was wrong, and the
Proclamation, according to French accusation, “insidious,” the United
States were not the first to offend.

On the day of the Proclamation came news by the journals that Genet,
the new French minister, had landed in South Carolina, where, amid
the darkest days of the Revolution, Lafayette had also first landed.
Full of conviction that France had only to make herself heard in
order to be sustained, Genet exalted himself conspicuously above the
Government. By instructions from the Executive Council of the French
Republic, dated 17th of January, 1793, he was enjoined “to penetrate
profoundly the sense of the treaties of 1778, and to watch over the
articles favorable to the commerce and navigation of the United States,
and to make the Americans consider engagements which might appear
onerous _as the just price of the independence which the French nation
had secured to them_.” Not content with existing safeguards, the new
minister was to negotiate a supplementary treaty, to fix more surely
“the _reciprocal guaranty_ of the possessions of the two powers.”[161]
In this spirit he commenced a turbulent career, charging offensively
that the President, before knowing what the minister had to communicate
from the French Republic, was in a hurry “to proclaim sentiments on
which decency and friendship should at least have drawn a veil,”--that
he “took on himself to give to our treaties arbitrary interpretations
absolutely contrary to their true sense,” and that “he left no other
indemnification to France for the blood she spilt, for the treasure she
dissipated, in fighting for the independence of the United States, but
the illusory advantage of bringing into their ports the prizes made on
their enemies without being able to sell them,”--and that the Secretary
of War, on his communication of the wish of the Windward Islands “to
receive promptly some fire-arms and some cannon, which might put into
a state of defence _possessions guarantied by the United States_, had
the front to answer, with an ironical carelessness, that the principles
established by the President did not permit him to lend so much as a
pistol.”[162] In another letter, the French minister, under date of
June 8, 1793, requires that “the Federal Government should observe the
public engagements contracted, and give to the world the example of a
true neutrality, which does not consist in the cowardly abandonment
of friends at the moment when danger menaces.”[163] And in still
another letter, dated June 22, 1793, he declares that “it is in the
conventional compacts, collectively, that we ought to seek contracts
of alliance and of commerce simultaneously made, if we wish to take
their sense and interpret faithfully the intentions of the people who
cemented them, and of the men of genius who dictated them.”[164] All
of which was followed by another letter, dated November 14, 1793, in
which the minister says categorically: “I beg you to lay before the
President of the United States, as soon as possible, the decree and the
inclosed note, and to obtain from him the earliest decision, _either as
to the guaranty I have claimed the fulfilment of for our colonies_, or
upon the mode of negotiation of the new treaty I was charged to propose
to the United States, and which would make of the two nations but one
family.”[165] At last Genet was recalled, but the question of our
engagements with France could not be dismissed. It was more menacing
than any minister. Without it all the turbulence of Genet would have
been as the idle wind.

And yet, for a while, each party seems to have practised a certain
reserve. Genet stormed, but the Government at home was tranquil. The
“guaranty” was suspended, even in discussion. France forbore to press
it, and the United States were happy to avoid the over-shadowing
question. The Secretary of State, in instructions to Mr. Monroe, dated
June 10, 1794, while “insisting upon compensation for the captures
and spoliations of our property and injuries to the persons of our
citizens by French cruisers,” was careful to add: “If the execution
of the _guaranty_ of the French islands by force of arms should be
propounded, you will refer the Republic of France to this side of
the water.”[166] Mr. Monroe, in his correspondence, under date of
September 15, 1794, says: “This Republic had declined calling on us
to execute the guaranty, from a spirit of magnanimity, and strong
attachment to our welfare”; but he reveals his anxiety lest an attempt
to press our case “might give birth to sentiments of a different
kind, and _create a disposition to call on us to execute that of the
Treaty of Alliance_.”[167] In another letter, dated November 7, 1794,
describing an interview with the very able Diplomatic Committee, our
plenipotentiary confesses the embarrassment he encountered, when M.
Merlin three times asked, “Do you insist upon _our_ executing the
treaty?” and he gives his reply, that he “was not instructed by the
President to insist on it, nor did he insist on it”; and he avows that
in his opinion such insistence would have been impolitic, as “exciting
a disposition to press us on other points, _upon which it were better
to avoid any discussion_.”[168] There is other testimony of this
nature, unnecessary to produce. Suffice it to say, that for some time
there was a lull, soon to be followed by a storm.

French forbearance is more remarkable, when it is considered that
the occasion for the “guaranty” had begun to be urgent. Even before
Howe’s great victory of June, over the French fleet, the British navy
swept the sea, rendering all French possessions insecure. Martinique,
San Domingo, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe were lost to the Republic in
the spring of 1794, so that the British historian has written: “Thus,
in little more than a month, the French were entirely dispossessed of
their West India possessions, with hardly any loss to the victorious
nation.”[169] But the “guaranty” was invoked by the impatient
colonists, who, without waiting the slower movement of the French
Republic, appealed directly to our Congress for “divers necessary
succors, of provision, ammunition, and even men,” and in impassioned
language pictured “England come to take possession of the French
colonies in the name of a king without dominions, and North America,
witness to that political perfidy, not able to lend a helping hand
against an unworthy treachery.”[170] The French Government at home
did not share the fury of the colonists. According to Mr. Monroe, in
his letter of December 2, 1794, whatever may have been their desires
at a previous stage, they did not now wish us to “embark with them
in the war,” but “would rather we would not, from an idea it might
diminish their supplies from America,” and “if the point depended on
them, they would leave us to act in that respect according to our own
wishes”; at the same time they looked to us for “aid in the article
of money.”[171] This moderation, although a temporary waiver, was in
no respect a renunciation of rights. According to Mr. Jefferson, in a
letter written some months after his retirement from the Cabinet, and
addressed to Mr. Madison, under date of April 3, 1794, the “guaranty”
was still obligatory. “As to the guaranty of the French islands,” he
wrote, “whatever doubts may be entertained of the moment at which we
ought to interpose, yet _I have no doubt but that we ought to interpose
at a proper time_, and declare both to England and France that these
islands are to rest with France, and that we will make _a common cause_
with the latter for that object.”[172] Such was American testimony.

The West India islands were lost without causing an apparent smart
at home; but it was different, when the news came of Mr. Jay’s
negotiation in England. The Republic was stung to the quick, and,
when the treaty became known, did not conceal its indignant anger.
In a formal note, dated March 9, 1796, it set forth its complaints,
dwelling especially upon the “inexecution of the treaties,” and upon
the formation of the recent treaty with Great Britain, in which the
United States “knowingly and evidently sacrificed their connections
with the Republic.”[173] In conversation with Mr. Monroe, the French
minister said “that France had much cause of complaint against us,
independently of our treaty with England, but that by this treaty
ours with them was annihilated.”[174] The year closed with the recall
of Mr. Monroe, and with a notice from the French Government “that
it will no longer recognize nor receive a Minister Plenipotentiary
from the United States, _until after a reparation of the grievances
demanded of the American Government_, and which the French Republic
has a right to expect”; and then, adding ingratitude to the list of
our offences, it declared an equal expectation “that the successors of
Columbus, Raleigh, and Penn, always proud of their liberty, will never
forget that _they owe it to France_.”[175] Meanwhile, M. Adet, the
French plenipotentiary in Philadelphia, was addressing our Government
in similar strain, calling for the discharge of our engagements, and
heaping reproaches: “The undersigned, Minister Plenipotentiary of the
French Republic, now fulfils to the Secretary of State of the United
States a painful, but sacred duty. _He claims, in the name of American
honor, in the name of the faith of treaties, the execution of that
contract which assured to the United States their existence_, and which
France regarded as the pledge of the most sacred union between two
people the freest upon earth.” And he charges the Government of the
United States with “sacrificing France to her enemies,” “forgetting the
services that she had rendered it,” and “throwing aside the duty of
gratitude, as if ingratitude was a Governmental duty.”[176] From this
time forward the claims of the United States never failed to encounter
the counter-claims of France.

The mutual coquetry which characterized the two Governments during the
mission of Mr. Monroe gave way to mutual recrimination and repulsion,
where France took the lead. M. Adet was recalled from Philadelphia.
Mr. Pinckney was sent away from Paris. Besides the earlier decree,
announcing that the Republic would treat all neutrals in the same
manner as they suffered the English to treat them, other fatal
blows were now dealt at our commerce, letting loose a new brood of
spoliations destined to swell the catalogue of our claims, by a decree
pronouncing the stipulations of the treaty of 1778 which concerned the
neutrality of the flags altered and suspended in their most essential
points by the treaty with England, greatly enlarging the list of
contraband, declaring Americans in the service of England pirates,
and authorizing the seizure of all American vessels without a _rôle
d’équipage_, which, notoriously, no American vessel ever carried, so
that practically our flag was delivered over to the depredations of
every French cruiser.[177]

Then came that plenipotentiary triumvirate, Messrs. Pinckney,
Marshall, and Gerry, who were particularly instructed by our
Government, while urging the multiplied claims of our citizens,
already valued at “more than twenty millions of dollars,” to propose
“a substitute for the reciprocal guaranty,” or, “if France insists on
the mutual guaranty, to aim at some modification of it,”--“instead of
troops or ships of war, to stipulate for a moderate sum of money or
quantity of provisions, at the option of France: the provisions to be
delivered at our own ports, in any future _defensive_ wars; the sum of
money, or its value in provisions, not to exceed two hundred thousand
dollars a year, during any such wars.”[178] Here was recognition of
the “guaranty,” and a sum offered for release from its requirements.
But the French Republic, drunk with triumph and maddened with anger,
was in no mood for negotiation. It met our plenipotentiaries with an
intrigue already mentioned as unparalleled in diplomacy, and, after
tolerating their presence for a while at Paris, without conceding an
official reception, sent them away, disappointed and dishonored. Even
in the informal relations which were permitted, Talleyrand, in the
name of the Republic, advanced and vindicated the counter-claims of
France. Without dwelling at length on his argument, it is enough to
quote certain words in a letter to Mr. Gerry, of June 10, 1798: “_The
French Republic desires to be restored to the rights which its treaties
with your Republic confer upon it, and through those means it desires
to assure yours. You claim indemnities; it equally demands them_; and
this disposition, being as sincere on the part of the Government of
the United States as it is on its part, will speedily remove all the
difficulties.”[179] Thus plainly was the case stated. It was not denied
that indemnities were due to the United States, but it was insisted
that they were also due to France.

The two countries, once allies, were now in the most painful
relations. Washington was no longer President; but his Farewell
Address, in some of its most important parts, was evidently inspired
by the counter-claims of France, especially when he warned his
fellow-countrymen “to steer clear of _permanent alliances_ with any
portion of the foreign world, _so far as we are now at liberty to do
it_,”--“to have with foreign nations as little _political_ connection
as possible,”--“to be constantly awake against the insidious wiles of
foreign influence,”--and then asked in well-known words, “Why quit our
own, to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by _interweaving our destiny
with that of any part of Europe_, entangle our peace and prosperity
in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or
caprice?”[180] In these remarkable words, where the same tone, if not
the same lesson, recurs, we discern the undissembled anxieties of
the hour. By the guaranty and other stipulations of 1778, our peace
and prosperity had been entangled, even if our destiny had not been
interwoven, in distant toils. France was urgent and brutal. War seemed
impending. At last another triumvirate of plenipotentiaries, Messrs.
Ellsworth, Davie, and Murray, was commissioned to attempt again the
adjustment of complications that had thus far baffled the wisdom of
Washington; but compensation for the “individual” claims of American
citizens was required as an indispensable condition.

Such are the counter-claims of France in origin and history. And now
again we are brought to the very point where the Committee had arrived
in exhibiting the claims of our citizens. The plenipotentiaries on each
side have met to negotiate, while the First Consul has gone to Marengo.
On each side they are equally tenacious. There is a dead-lock. How this
was overcome belongs to the next chapter.



The rules of duty and of conduct between individuals are applicable
also to nations, and the proceedings on this occasion illustrate
this principle. The two parties could not agree. Clearly, then, for
the sake of harmony, it was essential to postpone both claims and
counter-claims, for some future negotiation, or, if this were not
done, to treat them as a set-off to each other. Such, unquestionably,
would have been the action between individuals. But the history of
this negotiation shows the adoption of these two modes successively.
Postponement was first tried, but it gave way at last to _set-off_,
by virtue of which the _international_ controversy was closed. This
conclusion was reached slowly and by stages, as is seen in a simple
narrative of the negotiation.

The plenipotentiaries on each side evinced a disposition to provide
for reciprocal claims; but the claims specified by the American
plenipotentiaries were those of “_citizens_ of either nation,” while
those specified by the French plenipotentiaries were those which
“either nation may make for _itself_ or for any of its citizens.”[181]
In this difference of specification was the germ of the antagonism soon
developed, especially when the American plenipotentiaries proposed to
recognize the treaties and Consular Convention as existing only to
July 7, 1798,[182] the date of the statute by which Congress undertook
to annul them. This distinction seems to have been unnecessary, for
the French spoliations were clearly as much in contravention of
the Law of Nations as of the treaties. But it furnished the French
plenipotentiaries opportunity of declaring, under date of May 6,
1800, that “the mission of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the
French Republic has pointed out to them the Treaties of Alliance,
Friendship, and Commerce, and the Consular Convention, _as the only
foundations of their negotiations_”; that “upon these acts has arisen
the misunderstanding, and it seems proper that upon these acts union
and friendship should be established.”[183] Thus were the treaties put
forward by France; and our plenipotentiaries, writing to their own
Government, May 17, 1800, represent her as persistent: “Our success
is yet doubtful. The French think it hard to indemnify for violating
engagements, _unless they can thereby be restored to the benefits of
them_.”[184] But on this point our Government was inexorable.

The return of the First Consul from Italy was signalized by fresh
instructions to the French plenipotentiaries, who proceeded to declare,
under date of August 11, 1800, that “the treaties which united France
and the United States are not broken,” and that their first proposition
is “to stipulate a full and entire recognition of the treaties, and
the reciprocal engagement of compensation for damages resulting on
both sides from their infraction.” Here, again, the “individual”
claims of citizens of the United States were doomed to encounter the
“national” claims of France. And this communication concluded with
a formal proposition in these words: “Either the ancient treaties,
with the privileges resulting from priority and the stipulation of
reciprocal indemnities, or a new treaty, assuring equality without
indemnity.”[185] Thus it stood: Claims and Counter-Claims.

The American plenipotentiaries were driven to choose between
abandonment of the negotiations and abandonment of their instructions.
It was clear, from French persistency, that the treaties, with all the
counter-claims, must be recognized, or the indemnities, with all the
claims, must be sacrificed. The American plenipotentiaries then took
the extraordinary responsibility of a proposition which discloses not
only their earnest desire for a settlement, but also their sense of
pressure from France. It was nothing less than a price, in money, for
release from certain stipulations; but this was to be accomplished by
“a reciprocal stipulation for _indemnities limited to the claims of
individuals_.”[186] The French plenipotentiaries, in reply, insisted
upon recognition of the treaties in general terms, and also the rights
of their privateers in our ports; yet they offered to commute the
guaranty for a sum of money.[187] The American plenipotentiaries,
hampered by the recent treaty with Great Britain, were obliged to
reject this proposition; but, after requiring the satisfaction of
“individual” claims, they offered, in general terms, that “the former
treaties be renewed and confirmed, and have the same effect as if
no misunderstanding between the two powers had intervened”; and
further, that, _in consideration of eight millions of francs_, the
United States should be released from the guaranty, and also from
those other articles relating to prizes which had caused so much
embarrassment.[188] Then the French plenipotentiaries assumed a new
position in the following reply, September 4, 1800.

    “_To the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States at

    “We shall have the right to take our prizes into the ports of

    “A commission shall regulate the indemnities which either of
    the two nations may owe to the citizens of the other.

    “_The indemnities which shall be due by France to the citizens
    of the United States shall be paid for by the United States.
    And in return for which, France yields the exclusive privilege
    resulting from the 17th and 22d articles of the Treaty of
    Commerce, and from the rights of guaranty of the 11th article
    of the Treaty of Alliance._

            “C. P. CLARET-FLEURIEU.

Here was the first proposition of _set-off_. On the one side were
“indemnities due by France to citizens of the United States,” and on
the other side were “privileges and rights” under the treaties; but it
will not fail to be remarked that _the indemnities due by France were
to be paid by the United States_. This proposition proceeded on the
idea that the counter-claims of France were at least equal in value to
the claims of the United States, and that the release of the former
was a sufficient consideration for the assumption of the latter. But
this was entirely beyond the powers of the American plenipotentiaries,
who, in their reply, pronounced it “inadmissible.”[190] It revealed
the desire of France to escape any payment of money, as only a few
days later was openly avowed by the French plenipotentiaries, “giving
as one reason the utter inability of France to pay, in the situation
in which she would be left by the present war.”[191] This declared
inability served to explain the difficulties encountered by the
American plenipotentiaries. Evidently there was a “foregone conclusion”
against any payment by France. The counter-claims furnished the needed
_substitute_. But, as these were “national,” while the claims of the
United States were “individual,” there could be no just _set-off_
between them, unless the American Government assured to its citizens
the payment of what was due from France, according to the proposition
of the French plenipotentiaries.

The American plenipotentiaries were disheartened. Nothing in their
instructions enabled them to meet the new and unexpected turn of
affairs. The treaty they had striven for seemed to elude their
grasp. In their journal, under date of September 13, 1800, is the
record, that, “being now convinced that the door was perfectly closed
against all hope of obtaining indemnities with any modifications of
the treaties, it only remained to be determined whether, under all
circumstances, it would not be expedient to attempt _a temporary
arrangement_.”[192] The French plenipotentiaries did not consider
this proposition, without insisting, “first, that a stipulation of
indemnities carries with it the full and entire admission of the
treaties, and, secondly, that the relinquishment of the advantages
and privileges stipulated by the treaties, by means of the reciprocal
relinquishment of indemnities, would prove to be the most advantageous
arrangement, and also the most honorable to the two nations.”[193]
Here, again, was a proposition of _set-off_, which was repeated in
other different forms.

The dead-lock which clogged the negotiation, even at the beginning,
was now complete. The American plenipotentiaries announced at home
that they were driven to quit France, or to find some other terms of
adjustment.[194] The latter alternative prevailed, and the negotiation
was renewed, with the understanding that the parties put off to
another time the discussion of indemnities and the treaties.[195] The
other questions furnished no ground of serious controversy; and the
conferences proceeded tranquilly, from day to day, till September 30,
1800, resulting in what was entitled a “_Provisional_ Treaty.” The
title revealing its temporary character was subsequently changed, at
the request of the French plenipotentiaries, to that of “Convention,”
which it now bears in the statute-book.

The Convention, after declaring in its first article that “there shall
be a firm, inviolable, and universal peace, and a true and sincere
friendship, between the French Republic and the United States of
America,” proceeds to stipulate as follows.

    “ART. II. The Ministers Plenipotentiary of the two parties
    not being able to agree at present respecting the Treaty
    of Alliance of 6th February, 1778, the Treaty of Amity and
    Commerce of the same date, and the Convention of 14th of
    November, 1788, nor upon the indemnities mutually due or
    claimed, the parties will negotiate further on these subjects
    at a convenient time; and until they may have agreed upon
    these points, the said treaties and convention shall have no
    operation, and the relations of the two countries shall be
    regulated as follows.”[196]

Here the disagreement with regard to the early treaties and the
indemnities mutually due or claimed is specifically declared, and it
is then provided that “_the parties_ will negotiate further on these
subjects at a convenient time,”--meaning, of course, that hereafter,
at a more auspicious moment, and with other plenipotentiaries, “the
parties” will attempt to reconcile this disagreement. The whole
subject, with its seven years of controversy and heart-burning, was
postponed. Claims and counter-claims were left to sleep, while the
spirit of peace descended upon the two countries.

The Convention was signed at Morfontaine, the elegant country
home of Joseph Bonaparte, and the occasion was turned into a
festival,--illustrated afterwards by the engraving of Piranesi,--where
nothing was wanting that hospitality could supply. The First Consul
was there, with his associates in power; also Lafayette, rescued from
his Austrian dungeon and restored to France; and there also were the
plenipotentiaries of both sides, with American citizens then in France,
all gathered in brilliant company to celebrate the establishment of
concord between the two republics.[197] The First Consul proposed as
a toast, “_To the manes of the French and the Americans who died on
the field of battle for the independence of the New World_”; so that
even at this generous festival, to grace a reconciliation founded on
the postponement of claims and counter-claims, the youthful chief,
whose star was beginning to fill the heavens, proclaimed the undying
obligations of the United States to France. This strain has been
adopted by M. Thiers, who, after referring to this convention as the
first concluded by the Consular Government, says: “It was natural that
the reconciliation of France with the different powers of the globe
should begin with _that republic to which she had in a measure given
birth_.” The great historian, while thus recording our obligations to
France, shows how claims and counter-claims had been postponed. “The
First Consul,” he says, “had allowed the difficulties relative to the
Treaty of Alliance of the 6th of February, 1778, to be adjourned;
but, on the other hand, he had required the adjournment of the claims
of the Americans relative to captured vessels.”[198] In this summary
the stipulations at the signature of the Convention are accurately
stated. Though imperfect, it was the first in that procession of peace,
embracing Lunéville, Amiens, and the Concordat, which for a moment
closed the Temple of Janus, whose gates had been left open by the
Revolution in France.

The ratification by the First Consul followed the celebration at
Morfontaine, so that the Convention, with its postponement of mutual
claims, was definitely accepted by France. It was otherwise in the
United States, where the result did not find favor. The postponement
of a controversy is not a settlement, and here was nothing but
postponement, leaving the old cloud hanging over the country, ready
to burst at the motion of England or France. It was important that
the early treaties, with their entangling engagements, should cease,
even as a subject of future negotiation. In this spirit, the Senate,
on the submission of the Convention for ratification, expunged the
second article, providing that “the parties will negotiate further on
these subjects,” and limited the Convention to eight years. On the 18th
of February, 1801, President Adams, by proclamation countersigned by
John Marshall, as Secretary of State, published the Convention as duly
ratified, “saving and excepting the second article,” which was declared
“to be expunged, and of no force or validity.”[199] The precise effect
of this proceeding was not explained, and it remained to see how it
would be regarded in France.

Were the claims on France abandoned? This was the question which
occupied the attention of our minister, Mr. Murray, when charged to
exchange with France the ratifications of the Convention as amended by
the Senate. Reporting to the Government at home his conference with
the French plenipotentiaries, he said, “I fear that they will press an
article of formal abandonment on our part, _which I shall evade_.”[200]
He hoped, to keep still another chance for indemnities. On the other
hand, the French plenipotentiaries feared that an unconditional
suppression of the second article would leave them exposed to the
claims of the United States without chance for their counter-claims;
but they did not object to a mutual abandonment of indemnities,
which Mr. Murray admitted would “always be _set off_ against each
other.”[201] At last the conclusion was reached, and on the 31st of
July, 1801, the Convention was ratified by the First Consul, with the
limitation to eight years, and with the retrenchment of the second
article, according to the amendment by the Senate, the whole with a
ARTICLE.”[202] Such were the important words of final settlement. What
had been left to inference in the amendment of the Senate was placed
beyond question by this French proviso. Claims and counter-claims were
not merely suspended; they were formally abandoned. The Convention,
with this decisive modification, was submitted to the Senate by
President Jefferson, and again ratified by a vote of twenty-two yeas
to four nays. On the 21st of December, 1801, it was promulgated by the
President in the usual form, with its supplementary proviso, and all
persons were enjoined to observe and fulfil the same, “and every clause
and article thereof.”[203]

One aspect of this result cannot fail to arrest attention. Here was a
release of all outstanding obligations of the United States under those
famous treaties which assured National Independence. The joy with which
those heralds of triumph were first welcomed in camp and Congress has
been portrayed; and now a kindred joy prevailed, when the country,
anxious and sorely tried, was at last set free from their obligations,
and American commerce, venturing forth again from its banishment,
brought back its treasures to pour them into the lap of the people.
Strange fate! There was joy at the birth of these treaties, and joy
also at their death. But it was because their death had become to us,
like their birth, a source of national strength and security.

Thus closed a protracted controversy, where each power was persistent
to the last. Nothing could be more simple than the adjustment, and
nothing more equitable, _if we regard the two Governments only_. The
claims of each were treated as a _set-off_ to the claims of the other,
and _mutual releases_ were interchanged, so that each, while losing
what it claimed, triumphed over its adversary. But the triumph of the
United States was at the expense of American citizens. Nothing is
without price; and new duties, originating in this triumph, sprang into



Then came the assumption by our Government of the original obligations
of France, and its complete _substitution_ for France _as the
responsible debtor_. This liability was distinctly foreseen by the
American plenipotentiaries, Messrs. Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, as
appears in their words, under date of October 22, 1797: “We observed to
M. Bellamy, that none of our vessels had what the French termed a _rôle
d’équipage_, and that, if we were to surrender all the property which
had been taken from our citizens in cases where their vessels were
not furnished with such a rôle, _the Government would be responsible
to its citizens for the property so surrendered_, since it would be
impossible to undertake to assert that there was any plausibility in
the allegation that our treaty required a _rôle d’équipage_.”[204]
This admission, so important in this discussion, was so clearly in
conformity with correct principles, that it was naturally made, even
without special instructions.

Had the claims been “national” on each side, no subsequent question
could have occurred, for each would have extinguished the other in all
respects forever. It was the peculiarity of this case, that on one
side the claims were “national,” and on the other side “individual.”
But a _set-off_ of “individual” claims against “national” claims must,
of course, leave that Government responsible which has appropriated
the “individual” claims to this purpose. The set-off and mutual
release are between nation and nation; but if the claims on one
side are only “individual,” and not “national,” the nation which by
virtue of this consideration is released from “national” obligations
must be _substituted_ for the other nation as debtor, so that every
“individual” with claims thus appropriated may confidently turn to
it for satisfaction. On this point there can be no doubt, whether we
regard it in the light of common sense, reason, duty, Constitution, or

1. According to _common sense_, any “individual” interest appropriated
to a “national” purpose must create a debt on the part of the nation,
still further enhanced, if, through this appropriation, the nation is
relieved from outstanding engagements already the occasion of infinite
embarrassment, and hanging like a drawn sword over the future.

2. According to _reason_, any person intrusted with the guardianship
of particular interests becomes personally responsible with regard
to them, especially if he undertakes to barter them against other
interests for which he is personally responsible. Thus, an attorney,
sacrificing the claims of his clients for the release of his own
personal obligations, becomes personally liable; and so also the
trustee, appropriating the trust fund for any personal interest,
becomes personally liable. All this is too plain for argument; but
it is applicable to a nation as to an individual. In the case now
before your Committee, our Government was attorney to prosecute
“individual” claims of citizens, and also trustee for their benefit,
to watch and protect their interests; so that it was bound to all the
responsibilities of attorney and trustee, absolutely incapacitated
from any act of personal advantage, and compelled to regard all that
it obtained, whatever form of value it might assume, whether money or
release, as a trust fund for the original claimants.

3. _Duty_, also, in harmony with reason, enjoins upon Government the
protection of citizens against foreign spoliations and the prosecution
of their claims to judgment. Such are powerless as “individuals.”
Their claims are effective only when adopted by the nation. This duty,
so obvious on general principles, was reinforced in the present case
by the special undertaking of Mr. Jefferson, already adduced, when
he announced that he had it “in charge from the President to assure
the merchants of the United States concerned in foreign commerce or
navigation, that due attention will be paid to any injuries they
may suffer on the high seas or in foreign countries.”[205] Such a
duty, thus founded, and thus openly assumed, could not be abandoned,
on any inducement proceeding from France, without a corresponding
responsibility toward those citizens whose interests were allowed
to suffer. A waiver of national duty, especially where made for the
national benefit, must entail national obligation.

4. The _Constitution_ also plainly requires what seems so obvious to
common sense, reason, and duty, when it declares that “private property
shall not be taken for public use _without just compensation_.” Here
“private property,” to a vast amount, was taken for “public use,”
involving the peace and welfare of the whole country; and down to this
day the sufferers are petitioning Congress for that “just compensation”
solemnly promised by the Constitution.

5. _Public law_ is also in harmony with the Constitution. According
to Vattel, the sovereign may, in the exercise of his right of eminent
domain, dispose of the property, and even the person, of a subject,
by treaty with a foreign power; “but,” says this eminent authority,
“as it is for the public advantage that he thus disposes of them, the
state is bound to indemnify the citizens who are sufferers by the
transaction.”[206] Words more applicable to the present case could not
be employed.

6. The authority of great names confirms this liability. Among those
who took part in the negotiations with France, none but Mr. Pickering
and Chief Justice Marshall still lingered on the stage when the subject
was finally pressed upon Congress. Mr. Pickering was Secretary of State
under Washington and Adams, and drew the instructions. His testimony is
explicit. Without giving his statement at length, it will be enough to
quote these words, in a letter dated November 19, 1824:--

    “Thus the Government _bartered_ the _just claims_ of our
    merchants on France, to obtain a relinquishment of the French
    claim for a restoration of the old treaties, especially the
    burdensome Treaty of Alliance, by which we were bound to
    guaranty the French territories in America. On this view of
    the case, it would seem _that the merchants have an equitable
    claim for indemnities from the United States_.… It follows,
    then, that, if the relinquishment had not been made, the
    present French Government would be responsible. Consequently,
    the relinquishment by our own Government having been made in
    consideration that the French Government relinquished its
    demand for a renewal of the old treaties, _then it seems
    clear, that, as our Government applied the merchants’ property
    to buy off those old treaties, the sums so applied should be

Chief Justice Marshall, who was one of the plenipotentiaries that
attempted to secure payment from France, and afterward, as Secretary
of State, countersigned the proclamation of President Adams first
promulgating the Convention of 1800, has borne testimony similar to
that of Mr. Pickering. In conversation with Mr. Preston, of South
Carolina, he said, that, “having been connected with the events of that
period, and conversant with the circumstances under which the claims
arose, _he was, from his own knowledge, satisfied that there was the
strongest obligation on the Government to compensate the sufferers by
the French spoliations_.”[208]

Hon. B. Watkins Leigh, an ancient Senator from Virginia, relates that
the same eminent authority said in his presence, “distinctly and
positively, that _the United States ought to make payment of these
claims_.” This declaration made a particular impression upon Mr. Leigh,
because he had been unfavorable to the claims.

7. The obligation of the United States may be inferred also from _the
declared justice_ of the claims which had been renounced. On this point
the authority is equally explicit.

Of course, in urging them upon France, earnestly and most assiduously,
by successive plenipotentiaries, there was a plain adoption of them as
just. But even after their abandonment they continued to be recognized
as just.

Hon. Robert R. Livingston, plenipotentiary at Paris, in his
correspondence shortly after the abandonment, shows his discontent. In
a note to the Minister of Exterior Relations he speaks compendiously
of “the payment for illegal captures, with damages and indemnities on
one side, and the renewal of the Treaty of 1778 on the other, as of
_equivalent value_.”[209] And in a despatch, under date of January 13,
1802, he says he has “always considered the sacrifices we have made of
an immense claim as _a dead loss_.”[210] But this “dead loss” fell upon
“individuals,” and not upon the “nation.”

Mr. Madison, as Secretary of State, in a despatch to Hon. Charles
Pinckney, our minister at the court of Spain, under date of February 6,
1804, upholds the justice of the claims in significant words:--

    “The claims from which France was released were _admitted by
    France_, and the release was for _a valuable consideration_
    in a correspondent release of the United States from certain
    claims on them.”[211]

Thus, according to official declaration, the claims of American
citizens were “admitted by France,” but they were released for
_a valuable consideration_ which first inured to the benefit of
the Government of the United States. _Equitably, that valuable
consideration must belong to the claimants._

Mr. Clay, as Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams, made a report,
which had the sanction of the latter, where he fully affirms the
justice of the claims:--

    “The pretensions of the United States arose out of the
    spoliations, under color of French authority, in contravention
    to law and existing treaties. Those of France sprung from the
    Treaty of Alliance of the 6th February, 1778, the Treaty of
    Amity and Commerce of the same date, and the Convention of the
    14th of November, 1788. Whatever obligations or indemnities
    from those sources either party had a right to demand were
    respectively waived and abandoned, _and the consideration which
    induced one party to renounce his pretensions was that of the
    renunciation by the other party of his pretensions_. What was
    the value of the obligations and indemnities so reciprocally
    renounced can only be matter of speculation.”[212]

Mr. Clay concludes by declaring that the Senate, to which his report is
addressed, was most competent to determine how far the appropriation of
the indemnities due to American citizens was “a public use of private
property, within the spirit of the Constitution, and whether equitable
considerations do not require some compensation to be made to the

There is one other authority, of commanding character, not to be
forgotten. It is Hon. Edward Livingston, jurist, statesman, and
diplomatist, who, though not engaged in the negotiations, knew them as
contemporary, and afterward, as Senator, made a report, accepted ever
since as an authentic statement of the whole case, in which he says:--

    “The Committee think it is sufficiently shown that the claim
    for indemnities was surrendered _as an equivalent_ for the
    discharge of the United States from its heavy national
    obligations, and for the damages that were due for their
    preceding non-performance of them. If so, can there be a doubt,
    independent of the constitutional provision, that the sufferers
    are entitled to indemnity? Under that provision _is not this
    right converted into one that we are under the most solemn
    obligation to satisfy?_ … To lessen the public expenditure is a
    great legislative duty; to lessen it at the expense of justice,
    public faith, and constitutional right would be a crime.
    Conceiving that all these require that relief should be granted
    to the petitioners, they pray leave to bring in a bill for that

This list of authorities may be closed with that of the Emperor
Napoleon, who, at St. Helena, dictated to Gourgaud the following

    “The suppression of this article [2d of the Convention] at once
    put an end to the privileges which France had possessed by the
    Treaty of 1778, _and annulled the just claims which America
    might have made for injuries done in time of peace_. This was
    exactly what the First Consul had proposed to himself, in
    fixing these two points _as equiponderating each other_.”[214]

Thus the head of the French Government at the time of the Convention
unites with the statesmen of our own country in attaching value to
these claims.

       *       *       *       *       *

To all this array of argument and authority the Committee see no
answer. They follow its teaching, when they adopt the conclusion, in
which so many previous committees have already joined, that these
individual claims were originally just, and that the Government of the
United States, having appropriated them for a “national” purpose, was
substituted for France as debtor.


Assuming the obligation of the United States, the question occurs,
What sum should be applied by Congress to its liquidation? But before
proceeding to this point, the Committee will glance at what is urged
sometimes against this obligation, so far at least as they are aware of

       *       *       *       *       *

Objections of a preliminary character have been already considered; but
there are others belonging properly to this stage of the inquiry.

Curiously, the two main objections most often adduced answer each
other flatly. It is sometimes insisted that the claims were invalid,
by reason of the abnormal relations between France and the United
States anterior to the Convention of 1800, pronounced to be a state of
war; and then, again, it is sometimes insisted that these claims were
provided for in the subsequent Convention of 1803 for the purchase of
Louisiana. But, if the claims were really invalid, as has been argued,
it is absurd to suppose that France would have provided for them; and
if they were really provided for, it is equally absurd to suppose that
they were invalid. The two objections might be dismissed as equally
unreasonable; but, since they have been made to play a conspicuous
part, especially in Presidential vetoes, the Committee will occupy a
brief moment in considering them.

Other objections, founded on the later Convention of 1831, on the Act
of Congress annulling the French treaties, on the early efforts of the
United States to procure satisfaction from France, and on the alleged
desperate character of the claims, will be considered in their order.


The anomalous relations between France and the United States anterior
to the Convention of 1800 did not constitute a state of war so as to
annul all pending claims. The contrary assertion is inconsistent with
(1.) the facts of the case, (2.) the declarations of the two parties,
and (3.) the nature of the Convention.

Before considering these several topics, it may be remarked, that,
had there been a state of war, it would not follow that all prior
rights otherwise valid were annulled, so at least as not to be revived
at the close of the war. On one important occasion, the contrary has
been held by our Government in its negotiations with Great Britain.
The provision relative to the fisheries which appears in the Treaty of
1783 was not noticed in the Treaty of Ghent; and yet the United States
did not hesitate to insist afterwards, that, though interrupted by the
War of 1812, it remained in full force after the termination of the
war. Doubtless, claims bearing the open cause of war, and failing to
be recognized in the treaty of peace, are annulled; for the treaty is
the settlement of pending controversies between the two powers. But
the claims in question were not the open cause even of the anomalous
relations between the United States and France, and they did not fail
to have such recognition in the convention terminating those relations
as to exclude all idea that they were annulled by war, or any other
antecedent facts. It is not necessary to consider the effect of war,
for it is easy to establish that war did not exist.

1. The facts of the case are all inconsistent with war. There was no
declaration of war on either side; and, still further, throughout the
whole duration of the troubles the tribunals of each country were open
to citizens of the other, as in times of peace; so that a citizen of
the United States was not an “alien enemy” in the courts of France, nor
a Frenchman an “alien enemy” in the courts of the United States. This
fact, which was presented by Mr. Clayton in his masterly discussion of
the question, is most suggestive, if not conclusive.

It is true that diplomatic and commercial intercourse was suspended,
that the two powers armed, and that on both sides force was employed.
But this painful condition of things, though naturally causing great
anxiety, did not constitute war. One power may, in its own discretion,
suspend diplomatic and commercial intercourse with another; it may
assume all the harness of war, and even use force in retaliation,
retortion, or reprisal; but all this falls short of war, _especially
when public acts and declarations show that war was not intended_. Such
conduct tends to war, and, if continued, naturally ends in war. But it
is not of itself that terrible transformation by which one nation, with
all its people, is converted into the enemy of another nation, with all
its people, so that every citizen of the one becomes the enemy of every
citizen of the other, and all pending rights and contracts between them
disappear, at least for a time.

If war be the extinguisher of claims, it is because, in theory, the
claimant is supposed to have opportunity for reparation by seizing the
property of the enemy, wherever he can find it on the high seas. But no
reprisals against France were authorized by the United States; no war
on private property was permitted; so that the only principle on which
war is the extinguisher of claims fails to apply.

But not even an act of war constitutes war. The two parties determine
if war exists. To their public acts and mutual declarations we repair
for interpretation of their conduct.

2. On the part of the United States _the declarations are explicit_
that war did not exist, although it seemed imminent. Congress was
convened in May, 1797, to deliberate on the threatening aspect of
affairs, and adopt measures of public defence, which were continued
in 1798 and 1799; but in all this series of acts there is constant
and sedulous negation of the state of war. The Act of May 28, 1798,
after reciting that “armed vessels sailing under authority or pretence
of authority from the Republic of France have committed depredations
on the commerce of the United States, and have recently captured the
vessels and property of citizens thereof on and near the coasts,”
proceeds to authorize the seizure of any such armed vessel; but
nothing is said of war.[215] Another Act, bearing date the same day,
authorizes a provisional army, “_in the event of a declaration of war_
against the United States, or of actual invasion of their territory
by a foreign power, or of imminent danger of such invasion discovered
in the opinion of the President to exist, _before the next session of
Congress_.”[216] The Act of June 13, 1798, to continue in force only
till the end of the next session, and renewed February 9, 1799, for a
limited term, suspended commercial relations between the two countries,
under penalties of forfeiture;[217] but such acts, however menacing,
are absolutely inconsistent with an existing state of war, which of
itself, without any additional act, suspends all commercial relations
between the belligerent parties. The Act of June 25, 1798, authorizes
our merchant vessels to subdue and capture any French armed vessel
_from which an assault or other hostility shall be first made_.[218]
The Act of July 6, 1798, respecting alien enemies, begins with the
words of limitation, “_Whenever there shall be a declared war_ between
the United States and any foreign nation.”[219] The Act of July 7,
1798, declares the treaties no longer “legally obligatory”;[220] but
if war existed, such an act would have been superfluous. The Act of
July 16, 1798, authorizes augmentation of the army “for and during the
continuance of _the existing differences_ between the United States and
the French Republic.”[221] The Act of March 2, 1799, also authorizes
augmentation of the army, “_in case war shall break out_.”[222] Another
Act, passed the next day, provides that certain troops authorized by
the Act shall not be raised, “_unless war shall break out_ between the
United States and some European prince, potentate, or state.”[223]
And as late as February 20, 1800, while our envoys were on the way
to Paris, another Act was passed, providing that further enlistments
should be suspended, “_unless_, in the recess of Congress, and during
the continuance of _the existing differences_ between the United
States and the French Republic, _war shall break out_ between the
United States and the French Republic.”[224] All these cumulative
measures refer to war, not as actually existing, but only as a future
possibility. Meanwhile there were “existing differences” only. Finally,
on the 14th of May, 1800, four months before the signature of the
Convention, and when the plenipotentiaries on each side were at a
dead-lock, another Act was passed, authorizing the abandonment of the
military preparations set on foot in contemplation of the contingency
of war.[225] Such is a synopsis of testimony from Congressional
legislation. And now, when it is considered that Congress alone, under
the Constitution, has power to declare war, that it never made any
declaration of war against France, and that throughout this whole
period of trouble, in its whole series of acts, it expressly negatived
the fact of war, is it not impossible to assert, that, according to the
understanding of our Government, war actually existed? What Congress
did, and what it failed to do, answer in the affirmative.

The declarations of the Executive are as explicit as the declarations
of Congress. In the instructions to our plenipotentiaries, under date
of October 22, 1799, the Secretary of State, after mentioning the
spoliations of France, says: “This conduct of the French Republic would
well have justified an immediate declaration of war on the part of the
United States; but, _desirous of maintaining peace_, and still willing
to leave open the door of reconciliation with France, _the United
States contented themselves with preparations for defence_ and measures
calculated to protect their commerce.”[226] These plenipotentiaries
declared to the French, under date of April 11, 1800, that the Acts of
Congress, “_far from contemplating a coöperation with the enemies of
the Republic_, did not even authorize reprisals upon her merchantmen,
but were restricted solely to the giving of safety to their own,
till a moment should arrive when their sufferings could be heard and
redressed.”[227] Again, in a despatch to our minister in England,
under date of September 20, 1800, the Secretary of State, who was none
other than John Marshall, says: “The aggressions sometimes of one and
sometimes of another belligerent power have forced us _to contemplate
and to prepare for war as a probable event_”:[228] not as an actual
event already arrived, but only as a probable event. In the face of
such declarations, who can say that war existed?

On the part of France the declarations are equally explicit. It is
true, that, on the 12th September, 1800, in conversation, the French
plenipotentiaries let drop fitful words, to the effect, that, “if
the question could be determined by an indifferent nation, such a
tribunal would say that the present state of things was war on the
side of America, and that no indemnities could be claimed.”[229] But
the context shows, that, to avoid the payment of these indemnities,
they were driven to every possible subterfuge; and the whole
suggestion is contrary to all the admissions of the French Government,
both in the executive and legislative branches. Indeed, these very
plenipotentiaries of France, in a formal communication to the American
plenipotentiaries, under date of August 11, 1800, declared that “_the
state of misunderstanding_ which has existed for some time between
France and the United States, by the act of some agents rather than by
the will of the respective Governments, _has not been a state of war,
at least on the side of France_.”[230] We have already seen that it
was not on the side of the United States. Then again, under date of
December 12, 1801, they contented themselves with characterizing the
relations of the two powers at this period as “_almost hostile_.”[231]
At an earlier day, Talleyrand, as Minister of Exterior Relations, had
written, under date of August 28, 1798: “France has a double motive,
as a nation and as a republic, not to expose to any hazard the present
existence of the United States. Therefore it never thought of making
war against them; … _and every contrary supposition is an insult to
common sense_.”[232] When the Convention, in its final form, was laid
before the Legislative Assembly, one of the French plenipotentiaries
charged with its vindication announced in a speech, November 26, 1801,
that “it had terminated _the misunderstanding_ between France and
America,” which, he said, had become such “that it was necessary the
reconciliation should be hastened, if it was desired that it _should
not become very difficult_.” A report was also made to the Legislative
Assembly by M. Adet, formerly French minister to the United States, in
which it is declared: “_There had not been any declaration of war_.
Commissions granted by the President to attack the armed vessels of
France are not to be regarded as a declaration of war. The will of the
President does not suffice to put America in a state of war. In order
to this a positive declaration of Congress is requisite. _None has ever
existed._” And these legislative documents, so positive in character,
are introduced by the learned editor in words which fitly characterize
the international relations to which they refer, when he says that
“they will serve to make known the causes which _momentarily disturbed
the harmony_ of the two states.”[233] True enough. Unhappily, the
harmony of the two states was disturbed, but war did not exist.

3. The terms of the Convention, and the final conditions of
ratification, also, exclude the idea of war. Although beginning with
a declaration that “there shall be a firm, inviolable, and universal
peace,” borrowed, in precise words, from Mr. Jay’s treaty with Great
Britain, the Convention of 1800 did not purport to be a treaty of
peace; nor, indeed, as first executed, did it pretend to settle the
questions between the two powers, except by postponing them to “a
convenient time.” A war annulling claims could not be treated in this
way. The American Senate admitted as much, when it limited the duration
of the Convention to eight years, which, had war previously existed,
would have turned the Convention into a truce. The First Consul
confessed the same, when he added his far-reaching proviso, for which,
of course, there would have been no occasion, if the claims of American
citizens had been annulled by war; and again he testified, in his words
at St. Helena, where he speaks of this Convention as having “annulled
the _just claims_ which America might have made for _injuries done in
time of peace_.” Thus falls the objection, so often urged, founded
on the alleged existence of war. Strange, that, while so utterly
untenable, it should gain a single supporter! There is one remark which
belongs to the close of this topic. Even if France had affirmed that
war existed, yet the United States constantly denied it at the time,
both by legislative and executive acts; so that our Government is
obviously estopped against its recognition, even if it fails to feel
the indecency of such an excuse for any further denial of justice.


The objection that these claims were provided for in the Convention
of 1803, for the purchase of Louisiana, is equally groundless. It is
difficult to understand how such a pretext was ever made; but the
history of this question shows the strange shifts of opposition,
especially when without restraint from knowledge of the subject. The
most superficial glance shows that the two Conventions related to two
different classes of claims. Those abandoned in 1800 were on account
of spoliations, and in the nature of “torts.” Those protected in
1803 were “debts.” When it is considered how steadfastly the French
plenipotentiaries in 1800 opposed the recognition of the claim for
“torts,” and how the First Consul, by his positive proviso, required
their renunciation, it is most unreasonable to assume that in 1803
they were formally recognized. This assumption becomes still more
unreasonable, when it is understood that only at a comparatively recent
period was the idea first broached; that it is without support in the
documentary history of the Convention, or in any contemporary opinion;
that it escaped the attention of the Board of Commissioners appointed
under the Convention, as it escaped the attention of successive
Secretaries of State, and also of Congressional Committees, reporting
on the subject, until thus tardily it was brought forward as a last
resort of opposition.

The Convention of 1800, which sacrificed the claim for “torts,” kept
alive certain pending claims for “debts.”

    “ART. V. The _debts contracted_ by one of the two nations with
    individuals of the other, or by the individuals of one with
    the individuals of the other, _shall be paid_, or the payment
    may be prosecuted, in the same manner as if there had been no
    misunderstanding between the two states. _But this clause shall
    not extend to indemnities claimed on account of captures or

It will be observed how carefully the claims for spoliation were
excluded from the benefit of this provision, which is limited
positively to “debts.” Though apparently plain, the French Government
found difficulties in its execution. Vexatious delays were interposed,
and “debts” were treated little better than “claims,” so that our
minister at Paris, Hon. Robert R. Livingston, was constrained to
address the French Government, under date of March 25, 1802: “The
fifth article of the treaty says, expressly, they shall be paid; but
justice and good faith say it, independent of the treaty. Yet they
remain unsatisfied; nor is the most distant hope as yet afforded them
of when or how they will be paid.”[235] Such was the spirit of other
correspondence. At last, by one and the same transaction, Louisiana was
purchased, and these “debts” were provided for. The plenipotentiaries
of the United States, Mr. Livingston and Mr. Monroe,--the latter for
a second time plenipotentiary,--undertook to pay eighty millions of
francs for the purchase, of which sixty millions were for France, and
the remaining twenty millions for the payment of “debts” secured by the
Convention of 1800; and these terms were embodied in a treaty and two
associate conventions of the same date.

The treaty contained the terms of cession. One of the conventions
regulated the terms of purchase, and the other provided that “_the
debts_ due by France to citizens of the United States, _contracted
before the 30th September, 1800_, shall be paid” according to certain
regulations. It will be observed that these words descriptive of the
“debts” are not unlike those employed in the fifth article of the
Convention of 30th September, 1800.

The new Convention regulating the payment of “debts” begins with a
preamble, setting forth the desire of the President and of the First
Consul, “_in compliance with the second and fifth articles_ of the
Convention of the 30th September, 1800, to secure the payment of the
sum due by France to the citizens of the United States.” From the
association of these two articles some hastily infer a purpose to
revive the “claims” abandoned in the famous second article. But such
revival, instead of being “in compliance” with that article, or,
according to the corresponding French words of the Convention, _en
exécution_ of that article, would be in direct contradiction of it.
The allusion to the second article is obviously to carry into the
Louisiana Convention the original exclusion of the spoliation “claims.”
If any doubt could arise on this allusion, taken by itself, it would
disappear, when we consider that the fifth article is both _inclusive_
and _exclusive_. It includes “debts contracted,” which are to be
paid, and it excludes “indemnities claimed on account of captures or
confiscations,” which are not to be paid. Thus the language of the
preamble is justified, and the Convention is _in compliance_ with both
the second and fifth articles of the original Convention.

If we examine the Louisiana Convention carefully, we find that
“debts” alone are provided for. The first article, as we have already
seen, declares, “_the debts_ due by France to citizens of the United
States, contracted before the 30th September, 1800, shall be paid
according to the following regulations.” The second article describes
“_the debts_ provided for by the preceding article” as comprised in
a conjectural note. The third article declares how “the said debts
shall be discharged by the United States.” The fourth article more
specifically defines _the debts_ as follows: “It is expressly agreed
that the preceding articles shall comprehend _no debts_ but such as
are due to citizens of the United States who have been and are yet
creditors of France, for _supplies_, for _embargoes_, and _prizes made
at sea_ in which the appeal has been properly lodged within the time
mentioned in the said Convention, 30th September, 1800.” The fifth
article explains further the prizes intended in the fourth article, as
follows: “The preceding articles shall apply only, 1st, to captures of
which the Council of Prizes shall have ordered restitution, it being
well understood that the claimant cannot have recourse to the United
States otherwise than he might have had to the Government of the
French Republic, and only in case of insufficiency of the captors; 2d,
_the debts_ mentioned in the said fifth article of the Convention of
1800, the payment of which has been heretofore claimed of the actual
Government of France, and for which the creditors have a right to
the protection of the United States. The said fifth article does not
comprehend prizes whose condemnation has been or shall be confirmed.”
Under the first head, the class of captures is here defined. It was
those only where the Council of Prizes had ordered restitution, being
captures not warranted by the laws of France. Such cases were included
among “debts,” because the decree of the Council of Prizes ordering
restitution instantly created, on the part of the owner, a claim on
the captor for the property or its value; and where the captor was
“insufficient,” the Government assumed the debt. _And this is the only
class of captures provided for in the Louisiana Convention_. Under the
second head are specified “_the debts_ mentioned in the fifth article,”
with an express declaration that it “does not comprehend prizes whose
condemnation has been or shall be confirmed.” Thus in every article and
at every stage the spoliation claims are excluded from the benefit of
the Louisiana Convention.

Such was the contemporary conclusion of our minister at Paris, Mr.
Livingston, who, in his letter to the French Government of April
17, 1802, said: “The fifth article expressly stipulates that _all
debts_ due by either Government to the individuals of the other shall
be paid. But as this would also have included _the indemnities for
captures and condemnations previously made_, and it was the intention
of the contracting parties, by the second article, to preclude this
payment, as depending on a future negotiation, _it was necessary to
except from this promise of payment all that made the subject of the
second article_: … as to the payment of indemnities for embargoes
in consequence of the cargoes being put in requisition, or with a
view to any other political measure which carried with it nothing
hostile to the United States, no controversy ever arose between the
plenipotentiaries of the two nations.”[236]

Surely this objection may be dismissed.


Another objection has been started, kindred to the last, also in
kindred ignorance. It is said that these claims were embraced in the
later Convention of 1831 with France, under Louis Philippe. No mistake
can be greater.

That Convention opens with these words: “The French Government,
_in order to liberate itself completely from all the reclamations
preferred against it by citizens of the United States_ for unlawful
seizures, captures, sequestrations, confiscations, or destructions of
their vessels, cargoes, or other property, engages to pay a sum of
twenty-five millions of francs to the Government of the United States,
who shall distribute it _among those entitled_, in the manner and
according to the rules which it shall determine.”[237]

This provision must be interpreted in the light of preceding treaties,
especially of that which had occupied so much attention. They are all
_in pari materia_, and therefore, according to a familiar rule of
jurisprudence, must be taken together. But the Convention of 1800,
by the proviso of the First Consul at its ratification, _liberated
France completely_ from all liability for the claims now in question,
so that they ceased to be valid against her. Therefore these claimants
could not be “among those _entitled_” under the later Convention. This
interpretation is confirmed by the judgment of the French Government,
and also by the judgment of our own Commissioners under the Convention.
Mr. Rives, our minister at Paris, writing to Mr. Van Buren, the
Secretary of State at the time, under date of February 18, 1831, says:
“From what I have been able to learn of ----’s report, it is favorable
throughout to the principle of our claims. It excludes, however, the
claims of American citizens in the nature of debt or of supplies, as
being alien to the general scope of the controversy between the two
Governments,--and also American claims of every description originating
previous to the date of the Louisiana arrangement, in 1803, which has
been invariably alleged by this Government to be in full satisfaction
of all claims then existing.”[238]

Our own Commissioners, sitting at Washington, reported to the Secretary
of State, under date of December 30, 1835, that they had required every
person seeking _to entitle_ himself under the Convention to show that
his “claim remained unimpaired and in full force against France at the
date of the Convention of 1831.”[239] But the claims in question did
not come within this category. Clearly, they were not “unimpaired and
in full force against France.”

All this is apparent on the face; but it was demonstrated by the
action of the Commissioners. The experiment was made with regard to
captures prior to the ratification of the Convention of 1800, and no
less than one hundred and four cases were submitted to the board. All
but four were rejected. The first rejections, in point of time, were
January 11, 1833, in two different cases, when we have the following
entries: “Caroline, captured February 10, 1798,--rejected,--_the vessel
having been captured before the 30th September, 1800_”; “Brig Orlando,
captured March 1, 1800,--rejected,--_the capture having been made
anterior to the 30th September, 1800_.”[240] The indemnities allowed by
the Commissioners were mainly for captures under the decrees of Berlin,
Milan, Rambouillet, and Trianon,--that succession of sweeping edicts
by which Napoleon at the height of power enforced his Continental
system. There were four awards for captures after the signature of
the Convention of 1800, and before its ratification. As such cases,
occurring during this intermediate period, were plainly saved from the
renunciation of the Convention of 1800,[241] and yet were not included
in the Convention of 1803, they came naturally within the scope of
the Convention of 1831. The claims in question had no such advantage.
Renounced in 1800, they were not adopted in 1831. But, ceasing to be
claims upon France, they have become claims upon the United States.


Then it is said that the French treaties were annulled by Act of
Congress, so as to render the set-off and mutual release a mere form,
and nothing else. This objection, also, proceeds in ignorance of the

It is true, the United States, by Act of Congress, July 7, 1798,
declared the treaties heretofore concluded with France _no longer
obligatory_.[242] But the question still remained as to the effect of
this Act. Not purporting to be retrospective, all obligations under the
treaties at that date were fixed, whether on the part of the United
States or on the part of France. Therefore France, besides constant
liability under the Law of Nations, was liable also under the treaties
for all depredations anterior to this date, and the United States
were liable for all non-performance of obligations anterior to this
date. Assuming that the treaties were annulled, it is evident that the
anterior claims of each were not in any way affected; so that there was
still, even under the treaties, occasion for set-off and mutual release.

The depredations upon our commerce were not merely in violation of
ancient treaties, but also of the Law of Nations; so that, even if
the treaties were annulled, yet the Law of Nations remained with its
obligations and remedies. Our plenipotentiaries were instructed to
obtain compensation for captures and condemnations contrary to the Law
of Nations generally received in Europe, or to stipulations of treaty,
so long as the latter “remained in force.” As the treaties “remained in
force” until July 7, 1798, we were unquestionably liable to France for
indemnities to that day. Before that day the West India islands were
lost. Before that day we excluded French privateers and their prizes
from our ports. All proper damages for these things must have entered
into the French account against us. Therefore the annulling Act of
Congress could affect only the _quantum_ of consideration on both sides
at the set-off and mutual release, and not the fact of consideration.

But it is more than doubtful if the annulling Act could have the
effect attributed to it. Can one of two parties render a contract
void by mere declaration to that effect? Between two individuals this
cannot be done. Could it be done between two nations? Mr. Jefferson
thought not. At least, there is a report from him on another occasion
completely covering this case. These are his words: “It is desirable
in many instances to exchange mutual advantages by legislative acts
rather than by treaty; because the former, though understood to be in
consideration of each other, and therefore greatly respected, yet, when
they become too inconvenient, can be dropped at the will of either
party; _whereas stipulations by treaty are forever irrevocable but
by joint consent, let a change of circumstances render them ever so
burdensome_.”[243] Chief Justice Marshall quotes another opinion, where
a treaty was declared to be not only the law of the land, but a law of
a superior order, “because it not only repeals past laws, _but cannot
itself be repealed by future ones_.”[244] Such authority would seem
to settle this question, especially reinforced as it is by the Law of
Nations; for it must not be forgotten that the obligation of treaties
is determined by International Law rather than by Municipal Law.

Even supposing the Act of Congress had succeeded in annulling the
treaties, its effect, as regards France, was not so much to discharge
her claims as to make them perfect. In plain terms, it was a final
determination on our part not to fulfil the treaties. The circumstances
of the time, perhaps, rendered it necessary; but your Committee cannot
fail to observe, that, according to all principles of justice and the
established usage of nations, this very determination consummated the
right of France to indemnities for non-observance of the treaties. On
our part there was no longer any pretence to fulfil the treaties; so
that this very Act of Congress, which is cited to excuse us, may be
cited to condemn us.

Whatever the law of this case, even assuming, that, according to
good opinions, the treaties were annulled on the 7th July, 1798, it
is perfectly clear that at the negotiation of 1800 they were treated
by France as obligatory. On these she founded her counter-claims.
The present narrative shows her persistency. As often as our claims
were urged, her counter-claims were pressed in reply. And why ask
the renunciation of the treaties, if the Act of Congress had already
annulled them? Why, further, offer a large sum of money for release
from their obligations? Whatever the effect of the annulling Act
in the judgment of the American plenipotentiaries, it is clear
that they regarded the treaties as a cloud to be removed. And it
is equally clear that the French plenipotentiaries to the last
maintained the obligations of the treaties. The instructions of the
First Consul, before entering upon his Italian campaign, were to make
“the acknowledgment of former treaties the basis of negotiation and
the condition of compensation.”[245] It was the finality of these
instructions which at the time caused the dead-lock already described.
Thus, on the part of the United States, the obligation of the treaties
was denied subsequently to July 7, 1798, while on the part of France it
was affirmed as an indispensable condition down to the negotiation.

Therefore, on the part of the United States, there were claims under
the treaties anterior to July 7, 1798, and also under the Law of
Nations generally. On the part of France there were counter-claims
under the treaties down to the negotiation. Each side was tenacious.
Neither would yield. The time for compromise arrived. Then came the
set-off and mutual release. The transaction was between two nations,
but it was identical in character with transactions often occurring
between two individuals.


The persistent efforts of our Government, anterior to the Convention of
1800, are sometimes brought forward as sufficient reason for present
indifference. This also is a mistake.

It is true that our Government exerted itself much. Considering
its comparative immaturity, it deserves credit for the courage and
determination with which it labored. But it must not be forgotten
that in all it did, even for the recovery of indemnities, it acted
under the duties and instincts of national defence. Our commerce was
despoiled, to the detriment of American citizens. But this grievance,
which went on assuming larger proportions, proceeded directly from the
_hostile spirit_ of France, aroused by alleged infraction of national
obligations on our part; so that behind the question of indemnities
rose always the question of self-defence. France made reprisals because
the United States refused compliance with solemn treaties, and, as is
usual in such cases, individual citizens were the sufferers. Defending
the interests of its citizens, the country itself was defended. To
abandon these interests, especially without securing an abandonment
of French pretensions, would have been an abandonment of the country,
leaving it the dishonored victim of untold exactions without end.
If this be correct,--and your Committee do not see how it can be
controverted,--there can be no boast of extraordinary efforts, all
of which, whatever form they assumed, were in the performance of a
patriotic duty, simple as the filial devotion of Cordelia, “according
to her bond, nor more nor less.”

And now the fidelity of that early day, when duty was done, is the
apology for infidelity to-day, when duty is left undone; and those
patriotic efforts are vouched as a title to present exemption.
Because the Government was zealous for indemnities when France was
responsible, _argal_ it may be indifferent now, when the United States
are substituted for France. Or has it come to this,--that it is
right to be zealous in pressing a foreign Government, but not right
to be zealous against ourselves, _when substituted for that foreign
Government_, as in the present case? Beyond the misconception of
public duty apparent in this pretence, it forgets the true state of
the question. Here, again, we are brought to the Convention of 1800,
when both claims and counter-claims were adjusted. If the claims on
our side had been deliberately rejected, or if our Government had been
compelled to withdraw, as in a case of nonsuit, the case might have
been otherwise. There was no rejection, and no nonsuit, but, as has
been so fully shown, a set-off and mutual release, by which each party
accorded to its adversary just as much as it claimed for itself. So
far as the two Governments were concerned, claims and counter-claims
were extinguished, and neither could look to the other; but it did
not follow that American citizens, whose “individual” claims had been
appropriated to extinguish “national” obligations, were cut off from
appeal to their own Government. On the contrary, the very zeal for
these claimants, while they looked to France, is still due in their
behalf, now that, by the action of their own Government, they must look
to their country.

It is sometimes said in sarcasm that it is easy to be generous at the
expense of another; but in this case, now that the responsibility
has been transferred to our own country, it is not a question of
generosity, but of debt. The property of these claimants is actually in
the hands of our Government, like assets paid over and deposited “for
whomsoever it may concern,”--or, to use a more pungent illustration,
like certain property to which there can be no valid title against
the original owner. Stolen goods may be followed wherever found. But
the vessels of these claimants were stolen by France, and at last are
found in the hands of our own Government. Will the Government hold them
against the real owners? For nearly ten years it denounced the conduct
of France. How, then, can it profit by this conduct at the expense of
its own citizens? If the receiver is as bad as the original offender,
how can the Government expect to escape the indignant condemnation it
fastened upon France? Least of all, how can any early persistency to
recover this property excuse its detention now?


Kindred to the last objection is the assertion that the claims were
intrinsically desperate, so as to be of no value,--an objection as
humiliating as false.

It is humiliating, because it assumes that claims solemnly declared
just, both by the executive and legislative branches,--the former
by successive acts of diplomacy, and the latter by successive Acts
of Congress,--were of “no value.” If this were true, then was our
Government, when it sued these claims, guilty of national _barratry_,
for which it would deserve to be thrown over the bar of nations. It was
a stirrer of false suits. Such an imputation is an impeachment of the
national character.

But it is false. The claims were never “desperate,” except so far
as they were doomed to meet the counter-claims of France. On the
contrary, they were intrinsically just, and their justice was often
admitted even by France, who advanced against them her own pretensions
under the treaties. And when the set-off and mutual release occurred,
their validity was solemnly recognized; nay, more, they were paid to
the United States. Such is the inconsistency of objectors, insisting
that claims thus recognized and paid were so far “desperate” as to be
of “no value,” when they were of sufficient value to form the sole
consideration of release from immeasurable national obligations. If you
would find a measure of value for the American claims, you must look
to the counter-claims of France, not forgetting that all the vehemence
with which these were sustained testifies unmistakably to our claims.

If we may judge from our national history, there is no reason to doubt
that these claims, if not released by our Government, would have been
fully satisfied by France afterwards. It is in the nature of claims
on foreign powers to seem desperate. Such was the case, as is well
remembered, with the claims on Denmark, on Spain, and on Naples; but
all these have been paid. _No just claim by the American Government can
be desperate._ What claims could seem more desperate than those under
the arbitrary, wide-spreading edicts of Napoleon Bonaparte in his pride
of place? But President Jackson, when Louis Philippe had become King,
made an appeal, as he expressed it, “to the justice and magnanimity
of regenerated France,”[246] and even these claims, accruing under
a Government which had ceased to exist, were satisfied. The claims
in question had as much intrinsic equity, and were more intimately
associated with the national sentiments. Asserting that they would
have been paid, the Committee are sustained not only by the reason of
the case, but by the judgment of the disinterested historian of our
country, who thus concludes his account of the Convention of 1800, and
its final ratification with the proviso of the First Consul:--

    “Had the treaty been ratified in its original shape, the
    sufferers by the spoliations of the French might, perhaps,
    before now, have obtained that indemnity from the French
    Government which they have ever since been asking of their own,
    but which has hitherto been unjustly withheld.”[247]

There is no statute of limitations between nations; so that these
claims would have been as valid against France in 1831 as they
unquestionably were in 1800. A nation like the United States has
only “to bide its time,” and the day of justice will come. Indeed,
President Jackson, when dwelling on the negotiations with France in
1831, bore testimony to the vitality of American claims on foreign
powers, when he said that the new Convention would be “an encouragement
for perseverance in the demands of justice, by this new proof, that,
if steadily pursued, they will be listened to, and admonition will
be offered to those powers, if any, which may be inclined to evade
them, _that they will never be abandoned_.”[248] These words of Andrew
Jackson are a sufficient answer to the present objection.


Such are the objections to the responsibility of the United States. The
Committee believe that they have all been answered, so that the claims
stand above impeachment or question, as a debt to be liquidated and
paid. It only remains to consider what sum should be appropriated for
this purpose.


The “just compensation” to be paid by the United States may be
regarded, according to the classical report of Mr. Livingston, in two
lights: _first_, the value of the advantages to the United States at
the expense of these claimants; and, _secondly_, the actual losses
sustained by these claimants. Neither is proposed as an absolute
measure. A glance at each will enable us to arrive, by approximation,
at a proper result.


It is impossible to estimate in money the advantages to the United
States. Beyond the great boon of assured peace, under which our
commerce, no longer exposed to spoliation, put forth at once more than
its original life, two specific objects were gained: _first_, exemption
from all outstanding engagements and liabilities of every nature under
the early treaties with France; and, _secondly_, the establishment
of a new Convention, which, while rejecting much-debated claims and
counter-claims, provided positive advantages to the United States,
among which was that payment of “debts” subsequently assured by the
Louisiana Convention.

If the United States could be held responsible to France for the
treasure lavished on national independence, in pursuance of these
original treaties, there would be an item of fourteen hundred and
forty millions of francs, or about two hundred and eighty millions of
dollars.[249] The brave lives sacrificed for us cannot be estimated
in any account; but France did not forget them. Even amidst the
congratulations at Morfontaine in honor of the Convention, the First
Consul reminded the joyous company of the sacrifice. Beyond the toast
he proposed in honor of those who fell in battle for the independence
of the New World, there is no record of what was said by the successful
general of France; but old Homer, in one of his most touching passages,
had already spoken for him:--

    “Life is not to be bought with heaps of gold;
    Not all Apollo’s Pythian treasures hold,
    Or Troy once held in peace and pride of sway,
    Can bribe the poor possession of a day.
    Lost herds and treasures we by arms regain,
    And steeds unrivalled on the dusty plain;
    But from our lips the vital spirit fled
    Returns no more to wake the silent dead.”[250]

Under the sod of America, and under the waves of the Atlantic,
Frenchmen were sleeping whose lives had been given to the support of
our cause. If France did not forget them, let it be spoken in her
honor; but we cannot forget them, as we try to state the great account
between our two countries. Their swords, if flung into the scales,
whatever “heaps of gold” we might bring, would forever turn the balance
against us.

But how estimate the value of release from the “guaranty”
retrospectively and prospectively, as well for past failures as future
liabilities? It was often urged that the guaranty bound the United
States to the support of France only in the event of a defensive
war, and that the war in which she had been engaged was not of this
character. But it is more than doubtful if either proposition can be
maintained. The guaranty on its face has no limitation. And even if
it had such limitation, who will venture to say that the war in which
France drove back her multitudinous assailants, reinforced by the
navies of England, was not defensive? If France did not at once require
the execution of the guaranty, it was none the less a vital obligation.

That our Government appreciated the embarrassments, if not the
obligations, which the guaranty entailed, has already been shown by the
Committee. But there are certain words that may be fitly quoted again.
In the instructions of our Secretary of State to the first triumvirate
of plenipotentiaries at Paris, under date of July 15, 1797, it is
admitted that “our guaranty of the possessions of France in America
will perpetually expose us to the risk and expense of war, or to
disputes and questions concerning our national faith.” On this account
the plenipotentiaries were instructed to obtain its release, and “on
the part of the United States, instead of troops or ships of war, to
stipulate for a moderate sum of money or quantity of provisions, at
the option of France, … not to exceed two hundred thousand dollars
a year.”[251] This was moderate; but it was a recognition of the
guaranty, and of its practical value. The next triumvirate, at the
negotiation of 1800, offered more. They proposed to buy out the
guaranty by a payment of five millions of francs, or one million
of dollars.[252] It is needless to say that both these offers were

It would be as difficult to measure in money the value of that
guaranty, retrospectively and prospectively, as to measure in money
our obligations to France in the assurance of national independence.
The liabilities for failure prior to 1800, if pressed, would not have
been inconsiderable. But had the guaranty continued so as to constrain
the United States throughout the long war that followed, ending at
Waterloo, what arithmetic can calculate the damage? Nay, more,--if, at
the present moment, any such guaranty bound us to France, who would not
feel that it was an obligation from which we must be released at any

Besides the obligations of “guaranty,” were other engagements with
regard to French armed ships in our ports which had proved most
onerous. Here, also, was alleged failure on our part; and there was
the prospect of infinite embarrassment, if not of open war, unless
these obligations were cancelled. To keep them would cause collision
with England; not to keep them would cause collision with France. Our
plenipotentiaries offered, in the negotiation of 1800, three millions
of francs for release from these obligations.[253] This moderate offer
was rejected also.

France continued stubborn, insisting upon the ancient treaties, with
all consequent indemnities. At last, by the propositions of the 4th
of September, 1800, already exhibited by your Committee, a measure
of value was affixed to our engagements and liabilities. France
undertook to release us from all these on condition that we would
pay the indemnities due to our citizens, thus treating claims and
counter-claims as equivalent in value. It was required positively
that “the indemnities which shall be due by France to the citizens
of the United States _shall be paid for by the United States_.”[254]
In consideration of release from the treaties, the United States
were to assume the obligations of France to American claimants. How
this proposition, rejected at first, eventually prevailed in the
Convention and its successive amendments has been already explained.
It is mentioned now only to show the value of these engagements and


The practical question remains, as to the actual losses of the
claimants. Here the evidence is precise and full.

Our own Government, when pressing these claims upon France, gave an
official estimate of their value. On one occasion it put them above
fifteen million dollars.[255] Afterward it put them at twenty million
dollars. The latter estimate is found in a report from the Secretary of
State to Congress, under date of January 18, 1799, where it speaks of
“unjust and cruel depredations on American commerce, which have brought
distress on multitudes and ruin on many of our citizens, and occasioned
_a total loss of property to the United States of probably more than
twenty millions of dollars_.”[256] Inquiry into the losses confirms
this statement. From evidence presented to committees in former
years, and now belonging to history, it has been estimated that there
were _eight hundred and ninety-eight vessels_ included in the claims
released to France.[257]

The American vessels despoiled by France between 1792, the outbreak of
the European war, and July 31, 1801, when the Convention of 1800, with
its proviso, was ratified by Napoleon Bonaparte, have been reckoned
at two thousand two hundred and ninety, embracing as follows: first,
vessels captured by the French; secondly, vessels captured by the
French and Spaniards conjointly; thirdly, vessels detained by embargo
at Bordeaux. The following list shows how the account stands.

_List of Vessels in different Classes despoiled by France._[258]

  Whole number                                                   2,290
        From which deduct as follows:--
  1. Vessels paid for by special decrees of France            14
  2. Vessels paid for under the Convention of 1803, viz.:--
        For embargoes                                    103
        For contracts                                    270
        For prize causes under order of restitution        6
                                                        ---- 379
  3. Vessels rejected under Convention of 1803, viz.:--
        For contracts or supplies                        102
        For prize causes                                  26
                                                        ---- 128
  4. Vessels paid for by Spain under the Florida treaty
        of 1819                                              173
  5. Vessels rejected under Florida treaty                   191
  6. Vessels paid for under Convention with France of
        July 4, 1831, being for captures between the
        signing and ratification of the Convention of
        1800                                                   4
  7. Vessels rejected for want of merit, neglect of claimants,
        loss of proof, and other contingencies,
        reckoned at                                          503
                                                            ---- 1,392

Thus we are brought to the number of _eight hundred and ninety-eight
vessels_ bartered to France.

To arrive at the value of these vessels, the Committee have been led
to look at the estimate of vessels under conventions with other powers
for the payment of similar claims. Here is a list allowed by different
powers, with the average of each vessel:--

                 Vessels.   Averages.
  Great Britain    217     $47,672.81
  Spain             40       8,136.49
  France           357      10,504.20
  Spain            320      15,625.00
  Denmark          112       5,987.17
  France           361      12,984.71
  Naples            51      37,745.00
  Spain             20      30,000.00
  Mexico            64      31,658.43
  Colombia           5      21,474.53
                 ------    ----------
                 1,547    $221,788.34

From this list it appears that Mexico has paid as high an average as
$31,000 for each vessel; Naples, $37,000; and Great Britain, $47,000.
The general average of the whole list is $19,000.

If the vessels despoiled by France were estimated according to the
highest average, namely, that of vessels despoiled by Great Britain,
the sum-total would swell to no less than $42,206,000; estimated
according to the general average, the amount is $17,062,000.

But the valuation which has been deemed most satisfactory is that
presented in the indemnity paid by Spain for the French spoliations
on our commerce in her ports during this period, amounting, for 173
vessels, to $2,845,619, being an average of $16,500 for each vessel.
Adopting this average, we have as the aggregate value of the 898
vessels yielded to France under the Convention of 1800, and lost to our
merchants, the sum of $14,817,000,--nearly _fifteen million dollars_.

This estimate, tested by the official statements, fixing the
spoliations in October, 1797, at fifteen millions, and in January,
1799, at twenty millions, will appear at least not excessive,--adding
for the continued spoliations during the succeeding two years and a
half to July, 1801, only the very moderate allowance of two and one
half millions, (being in the ratio of but one fourth the increase
for the fifteen months between the two former dates,) and deducting
payments. Here are the figures:--

  Official estimate of January, 1799           $20,000,000
  Additional to July, 1801, say                  2,500,000
        Deduct therefrom--
  1. Vessels paid for by France, fifty-two cases,
        at the average $16,500                    $858,000
  2. Debts paid under Convention of 1803         3,750,000
  3. French spoliations, paid for under treaty
        with Spain of 1819                       2,845,619
        Sum-total, after deductions                        $15,046,381

If to this estimate interest be added, even at the smallest rate, the
losses of these sufferers will assume vastly larger proportions. More
than sixty years have run their course since the United States, by a
public act and for a valuable consideration, became their debtor. From
the beginning the country has enjoyed without price all the “national”
benefits originally secured at their expense, as part of the national
capital with its bountiful income, while these claimants have been shut
out from their property, and all its just profits. If interest be due
on any national debt, it is difficult to see why it is not due here.

Never was a case stronger. Nor is there any doubt with regard to the
rule. According to the best authorities, whether publicists or courts,
interest is justly due. Though swelling the national liability, it is
none the less an item in the case.

It will be borne in mind that these claims are under the Law of
Nations. As such, the rule of damages is under that law, and not
Municipal Law. Therefore the Committee resort to the Law of Nations.
Among all the authorities, none has spoken more fully and clearly than
Rutherforth; nor is there any one whose words on this point are oftener
cited. Here is the rule:--

    “In estimating the damages which any one has sustained, where
    such things as he has a perfect right to are unjustly taken
    from him, or withholden, or intercepted, we are to consider not
    only the value of the thing itself, but the value likewise of
    the fruits or profits that might have arisen from it. He who is
    the owner of the thing is likewise the owner of such fruits or
    profits. So that it is as properly a damage to be deprived of
    them as it is to be deprived of the thing itself.”[259]

Grotius says substantially the same.[260] So does Vattel, who declares
that claimants may obtain “what is due, _together with interest and
damages_.”[261] And Wheaton copies Vattel.[262] The Supreme Court of
the United States gives the same rule with nearly equal simplicity:--

    “The prime cost, or value of the property lost at the time of
    the loss, and, in case of injury, the diminution in value by
    reason of the injury, _with interest upon such valuation_,
    affords the true measure for assessing damages.”[263]

Such is the law of interest, and the Committee refer to it as
illustrating the accumulated losses which await satisfaction at the
hands of Congress.


The Committee, impressed by the original justice of these claims
and the present obligation of the United States, do not hesitate to
recommend their liquidation and payment at an early day, as they would
recommend the discharge of a national debt. While setting forth the
unanswerable evidence of their value, they content themselves with
the recommendation made many years ago, and repeated by successive
committees of both Houses of Congress, limiting the appropriation to
a sum not exceeding five million dollars, without interest, to be
distributed by a board of commissioners _pro rata_ among the claimants,
according to the provisions of the bill reported herewith. The
limitation is a departure from strict justice, but it is part of the
additional sacrifice which seems to be expected by Congress from these
long-suffering claimants.

In deference to the Secretary of the Treasury,[264] who, when consulted
thereupon, objected to the creation of a stock for this special
purpose, as provided in former bills, it is proposed that the money be
paid whenever Congress shall make an appropriation therefor.

By positive description the bill is made to cover claims for
illegal captures and condemnations prior to July 31, 1801, the date
of the final ratification of the Convention. But, by positive words
of exclusion, it is provided that the bill shall not cover claims
originally embraced in the Louisiana Convention of 1803, in the treaty
with Spain of 22d February, 1819, or in the Convention with France of
July 4, 1831; so that, in point of fact, the bill is carefully limited
to those original claims which, after postponement by the second
article of the Convention of 1800, were, at its final ratification,
definitely renounced by the United States, in consideration of
equivalent renunciations from France.


The Committee have now finished the review which, in the discharge of
public service, they were called to make. Approaching a much vexed
question without prejudice, they have striven to consider it with
candor, in the hope of ascertaining and exhibiting the requirements
of duty. The conclusion they have adopted, in harmony with so many
previous committees of both houses, and also with Congress itself,
which has twice enacted a law for the satisfaction of these claims, is
now submitted to the judgment of the Senate.

How the Committee have reached this conclusion is seen by a final
glance at the field that has been traversed. Putting aside the three
preliminary objections to these claims,--(1.) that they are ancient
and stale, (2.) that they have passed into the hands of speculators,
and (3.) that they should be postponed on account of the present
condition of public affairs,--the Committee have considered in order
four principal topics: _First_, the claims of American citizens on
France, as they appear in the history of the times; _secondly_, the
counter-claims of France, as they, too, appear in the history of the
times; _thirdly_, how the “individual” claims of American citizens
were sacrificed to procure release of the “national” claims of France
by a proceeding in the nature of set-off and mutual release; and,
_fourthly_, how the United States, for a valuable consideration,
assumed the obligations of France, so as to become completely
responsible therefor. Not content with showing affirmatively the
merits of the claimants, the Committee next examined all known
objections to the asserted responsibility of the United States,
establishing negatively: (1.) that the relations between France and
the United States were at no time such as to constitute a state of
war, invalidating the claims; (2.) that they were not embraced in
the Convention for the purchase of Louisiana; (3.) that they were
not embraced in the later Convention of 1831; (4.) that the alleged
annulling of the French treaties by Act of Congress did not affect
them; (5.) that the early efforts of our Government with France,
for their satisfaction, furnish no ground of exemption from present
liability; and (6.) that the claims, at the time of their abandonment,
were not desperate, so as to be without value.

With the removal of all known objections, the way was open to consider
the extent of “just compensation” under three different heads: (1.)
the advantages secured to the United States by the sacrifice of these
claimants; (2.) the actual losses of these claimants; and (3.) the
final recommendations of the Committee.

Such is the whole case in its divisions and subdivisions. There is
one reflection which belongs naturally to the close. These claims have
survived several generations, entwining themselves each year with the
national history. Meanwhile the Republic, for whose advantage they
were sacrificed, has outgrown the puny condition of that early day,
when its commerce was the prey of France, and even the sacred debt
for independence was left unpaid. These claimants have been called to
remark the glorious transformation by which the weak has become strong
and the poor has become rich; with glistening eye they have followed
the flag of the country, as it was carried successfully in every sea;
with sympathetic heart they have heard the name of the country sounded
with honor in every land; and now they joyfully witness the unexampled
resources with which it upholds the national cause against an
unexampled rebellion;--but these claimants have been called to observe,
especially, how, for many years, unchecked by hindrances, the National
Government labored successfully with foreign powers to secure justice
for despoiled citizens, until all nations--Great Britain, Spain,
Denmark, Naples, Holland, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile--have
yielded to persistent negotiation, and even France has paid indemnities
to our citizens for spoliations subsequent to these very claims. All
this history these claimants have observed with pride; but how can they
forbear to exclaim at the sacrifice required of them,--that they alone,
the pioneers of our commercial flag, are compelled “in suing long to
bide,” while part of the debt for national independence is cast upon
their shoulders, and the whole country enjoys priceless benefits at
their expense? Well may these disappointed suitors, hurt by unfeeling
indifference to their extensive losses, and worn with endless delay,
cry out in bitterness of heart, “Give us back our ships!” But this
cannot be done. It only remains that Congress should pay for them.



  N |      |                 |       |         |                |
  u |      |                 |       |         |                |
  m |Where |    By whom      |Commit |  Date.  |   Bills and    |Detailed
  b |repor-|    reported.    |-tee.  |         |    reports.    |reports.
  e | ted. |                 |       |         |                |
  r.|      |                 |       |         |                |
   1|House |Mr. Giles[265]   |Select |April 22,|                |R.
    |      |                 |       |1802     |                |
   2|House |Mr. Marion       |Select |Feb. 18, |Favorable       |R.
    |      |                 |       |1807     |                |
   3|Senate|Mr. Roberts      |Claims |Mar. 3,  |Adverse         |R. 124
    |      |                 |       |1818     |                |
   4|House |Mr. Russell      |Foreign|Jan. 31, |Adverse         |R. 32
    |      |                 |Affairs|1822     |                |
   5|House |Mr. Forsyth      |Foreign|Mar. 25, |Adverse         |R. 94
    |      |                 |Affairs|1824     |                |
   6|Senate|Mr. Holmes       |Select |Feb. 8,  |Favorable       |R. 48
    |      |                 |       |1827     |                |
   7|House |Mr. E. Everett   |Foreign|May 21,  |Favorable       |R. 264
    |      |                 |Affairs|1828     |                |
   8|Senate|Mr. Chambers     |Select |May 24,  |Favorable       |R. 206
    |      |                 |       |1828     |                |
   9|Senate|Mr. Chambers     |Select |Feb. 11, |Favorable, bill |R. 76
    |      |                 |       |1829     |                |
  10|House |Mr. E. Everett   |Foreign|Feb. 16, |Favorable       |R. 82
    |      |                 |Affairs|1829     |                |
  11|Senate|Mr. E. Livingston|Select |Feb. 22, |Favorable, bill |R. 68
    |      |                 |       |1830     |                |
  12|Senate|Mr. E. Livingston|Select |Dec. 21, |Favorable, bill |R. 32
    |      |                 |       |1830     |                |
  13|Senate|Mr. Wilkins      |Select |Jan. 26, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |       |1832     |                |
  14|Senate|Mr. Chambers     |Select |Dec. 20, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |       |1832     |                |
  15|Senate|Mr. Webster[266] |Select |Dec. 10, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |       |1834     |                |
  16|House |Mr. E. Everett  }|Foreign|Feb. 21,{|Favorable      }|R. 121
    |      |Mr. Cambreleng  }|Affairs|1835    {|Adverse        }|
  17|House |Mr. Howard       |Foreign|Jan. 20, |Favorable, bill |R. 445
    |      |                 |Affairs|1838     |                |
  18|House |Mr. Cushing      |Indivi-|Mar. 31, |Favorable       |
    |      |                 |dual   |1838     |                |
  19|House |Mr. Cushing     }|Foreign|April 4,{|Favorable, bill}|R. 343
    |      |Mr. Pickens     }|Affairs|1840    {|Minority Adv’s }|
  20|House |Mr. Cushing      |Foreign|Dec. 29, |Favorable, bill |R. 16
    |      |                 |Affairs|1841     |                |
  21|Senate|Mr. Choate       |Foreign|Jan. 28, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1842     |                |
  22|Senate|Mr. Archer       |Foreign|Jan. 5,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1843     |                |
  23|House |Mr. C. J.        |Foreign|April 17,|Favorable, bill |
    |      |    Ingersoll    |Affairs|1844     |                |
  24|Senate|Mr. Choate       |Foreign|May 29,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1844     |                |
  25|Senate|Mr. Choate       |Foreign|Dec. 23, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1844     |                |
  26|Senate|Mr. J. M.        |Select |Feb. 2,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |    Clayton[267] |       |1846     |                |
  27|House |Mr. Tru.         |Foreign|July 13, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |    Smith[268]   |Affairs|1846     |                |
  28|Senate|Mr. Morehead     |Select |Feb. 10, |Favorable, bill |R. 144
    |      |                 |       |1847     |                |
  29|House |Mr. Tru. Smith   |Foreign|Jan. 4,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Affairs|1848     |                |
  30|Senate|Mr. Tru.         |}Select|Feb. 5, {|Favorable, bill}|R. 44
    |      |    Smith[269]   |}      |1850    {|Minority Adv’s }|
    |      |Mr. Hunter       |}      |         |                |
  31|House |Mr. Buel         |Foreign|June 14, |Favorable, bill |R. 355
    |      |                 |       |1850     |                |
  32|Senate|Mr. Bradbury    }|Select |Jan. 14,{|Favorable, bill}|R. 26
    |      |Mr. Felch       }|       |1852    {|Minority Adv’s }|
  33|Senate|Mr. Hamlin[270]  |Select |Jan. 17, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |       |1854     |                |
  34|House |Mr. Bayly[271]   |Foreign|Jan. 4,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Affairs|1854     |                |
  35|House |Mr. Pennington   |Foreign|Mar. 3,  |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Affairs|1857     |                |
  36|Senate|Mr.              |Select |Feb. 4,  |Favorable, bill |R. 53
    |      |  Crittenden[272]|       |1858     |                |
  37|House |Mr. Clingman     |Foreign|May 5,   |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Affairs|1858     |                |
  38|House |Mr. Royce        |Foreign|Mar. 29, |Favorable, bill |R. 259
    |      |                 |Affairs|1860     |                |
  39|Senate|Mr. Crittenden   |Select |June 11, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |       |1860     |                |
  40|Senate|Mr. Sumner       |Foreign|Jan. 13, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1862     |                |
  41|Senate|Mr. Sumner       |Foreign|Jan. 20, |Favorable, bill |
    |      |                 |Relat’s|1863     |                |



    The property in horses was the gift of God to man at the
    creation of the world; the property in slaves is property
    held and acquired by crime, differing in no moral aspect from
    the pillage of a freebooter, and to which no lapse of time
    can give a prescriptive right--JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, _Speech at
    Bridgewater_, November 6, 1844.

       *       *       *       *       *

        Swift with her Pand she issued and unclosed
        The loathsome sties wherein the swine reposed.
        They men became, but younger than before,
        More beauteous far, and far majestic more.

                               _Odyssey_, tr. SOTHEBY, Book X. 398-407.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The Christian religion is equal in its operation, and is
    accommodated to every nation on the globe. It robs no one of
    his freedom, violates none of his inherent rights, on the
    ground that he is a slave by nature, as pretended; and it well
    becomes your Majesty to banish so monstrous an oppression from
    your kingdoms in the beginning of your reign, that the Almighty
    may make it long and glorious.--LAS CASAS, _Address before
    Charles V.: Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico_, Vol.
    I. p. 379, Note.

       *       *       *       *       *

    In a clause of his will Cortés expresses a doubt whether it is
    right to exact personal service from the natives, and commands
    that a strict inquiry shall be made into the nature and value
    of such services as he had received, and that in all cases a
    fair compensation shall be allowed for them. Lastly, he makes
    this remarkable declaration: “It has long been a question,
    whether one can conscientiously hold property in Indian slaves.
    Since this point has not yet been determined, I enjoin it on my
    son Martin and his heirs that they spare no pains to come to an
    exact knowledge of the truth, as a matter which deeply concerns
    the conscience of each of them, no less than mine.”--CORTÉS,
    _his Testament_: Ibid., Vol. III. p. 345.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Mais certes, s’il y a rien de clair et d’apparent en la nature,
    et en quoy il ne soit pas permis de faire l’aveugle, c’est cela
    que nature, le ministre de Dieu et la gouvernante des hommes,
    nous a tous faits de mesme forme, et, comme il semble, à mesme
    moule, afin de nous entrecognoistre tous pour compaignons, ou
    plus tost frères.--LA BOËTIE, _De la Servitude Volontaire_:
    Œuvres, ed. Feugère, (Paris, 1846,) p. 26.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Quand est-ce donc un homme de Dieu goûtera le plaisir de la
    liberté dans toute son étendue? Quand il ne la goûtera que dans
    ses frères affranchis.--BOSSUET, _Panégyrique de Saint Pierre
    Nolasque_, Point II.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Et qu’on ne dise pas, qu’en supprimant l’esclavage, le
    Gouvernement violeroit la propriété des colons. Comment
    l’usage, ou même une loi positive, pourroit-elle jamais donner
    à un homme un véritable droit de propriété sur le travail, sur
    la liberté, sur l’être entier d’un autre homme innocent, et
    qui n’y a point consenti? En déclarant les nègres libres, _on
    n’ôteroit pas au colon sa propriété_; on l’empêcheroit de faire
    un crime, et l’argent qu’on a payé pour un crime n’a jamais
    donné le droit de le commettre.--CONDORCET, _Note 109 sur les
    Pensées de Pascal_.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Allegiance to that Power that gives us the _forms_ of men
    commands us to maintain the _rights_ of men; and never yet was
    this truth dismissed from the human heart,--never in any time,
    in any age,--never in any clime where rude man ever had any
    social feeling, or where corrupt refinement had subdued all
    feelings; never was this one unextinguishable truth destroyed
    from the heart of man, placed as it is in the core and centre
    of it by his Maker, that man was not made the property of
    man.--RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, _Speech on the Trial of Warren
    Hastings_, June 6, 1788: _Moore’s Memoirs of Sheridan_ (London,
    1825), Vol. I. p. 505.

       *       *       *       *       *

    In each of these cases [the United States and Russia] the
    slaves and the serfs are not ripe for freedom; no enslaved
    people ever are; and to wait, before you bestow liberty or
    political rights, till the recipients are fit to employ them
    aright, is to resolve not to go into the water till you can
    swim. You must make up your mind to encounter many very
    considerable evils at first, and for some time, while men are
    learning to use the advantages conferred on them.--ARCHBISHOP
    WHATELY, _Annotations to Bacon’s Essays_: Essay XXI., _Of

       *       *       *       *       *

    Non-seulement ma liberté est à moi, par la seule grâce de
    Dieu, comme ma vie, et personne n’en peut disposer à ma place,
    mais je ne suis pas maître d’en disposer moi-même. Ce n’est pas
    assez de dire, que la liberté est un droit: la liberté est un
    devoir.--JULES SIMON, _La Liberté_, Tom. I. p. 26.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The first public movement for an Amendment of the National
    Constitution, abolishing Slavery, was a resolution presented
    by the devoted Abolitionist, Henry C. Wright, and adopted by
    the American Antislavery Society at its anniversary meeting
    in Philadelphia, December 4, 1863. In a letter to Mr. Sumner,
    January 13, 1870, Mr. Wright recounted the history of this
    resolution, which he set forth, prefixing the original in the
    handwriting of Mr. Sumner:--

        “That the voice of the people is heard through petitions
        to Congress, and this Convention earnestly recommend that
        this voice be raised in petitions for an Amendment of the
        Constitution, declaring that Slavery shall be forever
        prohibited within the limits of the United States.

            “CHARLES SUMNER.

    Mr. Wright adds:--

        “This is in your hand. On the back, in my hand, are the
        words: ‘Saloon of Steamer Empire State, on Long Island
        Sound, Wednesday, A. M., December 2, 1863. Adopted by the
        American Antislavery Society, at its thirtieth anniversary
        or third decade meeting, held in Philadelphia, December
        3d and 4th, 1863. Adopted December 4th, Friday. Presented
        by Henry C. Wright, of Boston, and adopted by the Society
        without a dissenting voice.’

            “HENRY C. WRIGHT.”

    Mr. Wright afterwards communicated these facts to the press.

    December 14, 1863, in the House of Representatives, Mr. Ashley,
    of Ohio, introduced a Constitutional Amendment abolishing
    Slavery, in these terms:--

        “Slavery is hereby forever prohibited in all the States of
        the Union, and in all Territories now owned or which may
        hereafter be acquired by the United States.”

    On the same day, Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, introduced another, in
    these terms:--

        “Slavery, being incompatible with a free Government, is
        forever prohibited in the United States, and involuntary
        servitude shall be permitted only as a punishment for

    January 11, 1864, in the Senate, Mr. Henderson, of Missouri,
    proposed the following amendment:--

        “Slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
        for crime, shall not exist in the United States.”

    This was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

    February 8th, while the Committee had the question still under
    consideration, Mr. Sumner proposed an Amendment as follows:--

        “ARTICLE --. Everywhere within the limits of the United
        States, and of each State or Territory thereof, all persons
        are equal before the law, so that no person can hold
        another as a slave.”

    Mr. Sumner moved the reference of the joint resolution
    containing his Amendment to the Select Committee on Slavery
    and Freedmen, of which he was Chairman. Mr. Trumbull thought
    it had better go to the Committee on the Judiciary, to which
    the other proposition had been referred. Mr. Sumner remarked,
    that already petitions against the Fugitive Slave Act had
    been reported from the Committee on the Judiciary with the
    recommendation that they be referred to the other Committee,
    that the terms of the resolution raising this Committee were
    broad enough to cover every proposition relating to Slavery,
    and that, in fact, petitions relating to a Constitutional
    Amendment had already been referred to this Committee. If after
    this statement the Senator desired that the joint resolution
    should be referred to the Committee of which he was the
    honored head, Mr. Sumner consented with the greatest pleasure.
    Mr. Trumbull expressed the opinion that “the appropriate
    Committee for all propositions to change the Constitution was
    the Judiciary Committee,” and in this opinion Mr. Doolittle
    concurred. Mr. Sumner was perfectly willing to follow the
    suggestion made. His chief desire was that the Committee would
    “act upon it soon.”

    Meanwhile Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, moved that the joint
    resolution be indefinitely postponed, which was lost,--Yeas 8,
    Nays 31. It was then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

    February 10th, Mr. Trumbull reported back the two joint
    resolutions, and the various petitions on the subject, with
    a substitute, as an amendment to the joint resolution of Mr.
    Henderson, in the following terms:--

        “SECTION 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
        except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall
        have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
        States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

        SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this
        article by appropriate legislation.”

    February 17th, Mr. Sumner, inferring from the report of
    the Committee a disposition to follow the Ordinance for the
    Northwest Territory, and also thinking it desirable to expel
    from the Constitution clauses alleged to concern Slavery,
    gave notice of the following substitute, the first clause of
    which is modelled precisely on the famous prohibition in the

        “ARTICLE 13.

        “SECTION 1. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary
        servitude anywhere in the United States, or within the
        jurisdiction thereof, otherwise than in the punishment of
        crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted;
        and the Congress may make all laws which shall be necessary
        and proper to enforce this prohibition.

        “SECTION 2. In the third paragraph of the second section
        of the first article, concerning the apportionment of
        Representatives, the following words shall be struck out,
        so as to be no longer a part of the Constitution, namely:
        ‘Which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of
        free persons, including those bound to service for a term
        of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of
        all other persons,’ except the words ‘excluding Indians
        not taxed,’ which shall be allowed to remain, so that the
        whole clause shall read: ‘Representatives and direct taxes
        shall be apportioned among the several States which may be
        included within this Union according to their respective
        numbers, excluding Indians not taxed.’

        “SECTION 3. The whole of the third paragraph of the
        second section of the fourth article, in the words hereto
        appended, shall be struck out, so as to be no longer a part
        of the Constitution, namely: ‘No person held to service or
        labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into
        another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation
        therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but
        shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such
        service or labor may be due.’”

    March 28th, the Senate, as in Committee of the Whole,
    proceeded to consider the joint resolution, the pending
    question being the substitute of the Committee. Mr. Trumbull
    opened the debate by an elaborate speech, in which he said: “If
    we are to get rid of the institution of Slavery, we must have
    some more efficient way of doing it than by the Proclamations
    that have been issued or the Acts of Congress which have been
    passed.… Sir, in my judgment, the only effectual way of ridding
    the country of Slavery, and so that it cannot be resuscitated,
    is by an Amendment of the Constitution, forever prohibiting it
    within the jurisdiction of the United States. It is reasonable
    to suppose, that, if this proposed Amendment passes Congress,
    it will within a year receive the ratification of the requisite
    number of States to make it a part of the Constitution. That
    accomplished, and we are forever freed of this troublesome
    question.… We take this question entirely away from the
    politics of the country; we relieve Congress of sectional
    strifes; and, what is better than all, we restore to a whole
    race that freedom which is theirs by the gift of God, but which
    we for generations have wickedly denied them.” Mr. Wilson,
    of Massachusetts, made an effective speech, whose character
    appears in its title, as published: “The Death of Slavery
    is the Life of the Nation.” Then followed, on successive
    days, speeches from Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, Mr. Saulsbury,
    of Delaware, Mr. McDougall, of California, Mr. Hendricks,
    of Indiana, and Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, all against the
    Amendment. Mr. Davis declared that “the most operative single
    cause of the pending war was the intermeddling of Massachusetts
    with the institution of Slavery,” and it was an “objection of
    overruling weight, that no revision of the Constitution, in any
    form, ought to be undertaken under the auspices of the party in
    power.” Mr. Saulsbury said: “Immediately after the Flood, the
    Almighty condemned a whole race to servitude. He said, ‘Cursed
    be Canaan!’” In behalf of the Amendment were able speeches
    by Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, Mr. Howe, of Wisconsin, Mr.
    Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, Mr. Harlan, of Iowa, Mr. Hale, of
    New Hampshire, and Mr. Henderson, of Missouri.

    April 8th, the last day of debate, Mr. Sumner made the speech
    which follows this Introduction.

       *       *       *       *       *

    During the discussion there were several votes. Mr. Davis
    moved as a substitute, “No negro, or person whose mother or
    grandmother is or was a negro, shall be a citizen of the United
    States, or be eligible to any civil or military office or to
    any place of trust or profit under the United States.” This
    was lost,--Yeas 5, Nays 32. Mr. Davis then proposed to add to
    the first section of the proposed article: “But no slave shall
    be entitled to his or her freedom under this Amendment, if
    resident, at the time it takes effect, in any State the laws of
    which forbid free negroes to reside therein, until removed from
    such State by the Government of the United States.” This was
    rejected without a division. Mr. Davis further proposed to add
    at the end of the second section, that, “when this Amendment of
    the Constitution shall have taken effect by freeing the slaves,
    Congress shall provide for the distribution and settlement of
    all the population of African descent in the United States
    among the several States and Territories in proportion to the
    white population of each State and Territory.” This also was
    rejected without a division, as was another Amendment by him
    concerning the election of President and Vice-President. Mr.
    Powell moved to add to the first section: “No slave shall be
    emancipated by this article, unless the owner thereof shall be
    first paid the value of the slave or slaves so emancipated.”
    This was rejected,--Yeas 2, Nays 34.

    Mr. Sumner offered his substitute in these terms:--

        “All persons are equal before the law, so that no person
        can hold another as a slave; and the Congress may make all
        laws necessary and proper to carry this article into effect
        everywhere within the United States and the jurisdiction

    Concerning the Amendment of the Committee he remarked:--

        “It starts with the idea of reproducing the Jeffersonian
        Ordinance. I doubt the expediency of reproducing that
        Ordinance. It performed an excellent work in its day, but
        there are words in it which are entirely inapplicable to
        our time. They are the limitation, ‘otherwise than in the
        punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly
        convicted.’ Now, unless I err, there is an implication from
        those words that men may be enslaved as a punishment of
        crimes whereof they shall have been duly convicted. There
        was a reason for that at the time; for I understand that
        it was the habit in certain parts of the country to doom
        persons as slaves for life as a punishment for crime, and
        it was not proposed to prohibit this habit. But Slavery
        in our day is something distinct, perfectly well known,
        requiring no words of distinction outside of itself. Why,
        therefore, add the words, ‘nor involuntary servitude,
        except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall
        have been duly convicted’? To my mind they are entirely
        surplusage. They do no good there, but absolutely introduce
        a doubt.

        “In placing a new and important text in our Constitution
        we cannot be too careful. We should consider well that
        the language adopted in this Chamber to-day will in all
        probability be adopted in the other House, and it must be
        adopted, also, by three fourths of the Legislatures of
        the States. Therefore we have every motive, the strongest
        inducement in the world, to make that language as perfect
        as possible. I do not hesitate to say, that I object to
        the Jeffersonian Ordinance, even if presented here in its
        original text. But now I am brought to the point that
        the proposition of the Committee is not the Jeffersonian
        Ordinance, except in its bad feature. In other respects, it
        discards the language of the Jeffersonian Ordinance, and
        also its collocation of words.”

    Mr. Trumbull replied, that the Committee, upon discussion and
    examination, had come to their conclusion. “I do not know,”
    he said, “that I should have adopted these precise words, but
    a majority of the Committee thought they were the best words;
    they accomplish the object; and I cannot see why the Senator
    from Massachusetts should be so pertinacious about particular
    words.” He hoped Mr. Sumner would withdraw his proposition.

    Mr. Howard, of Michigan, wished as much as Mr. Sumner
    to use significant language that cannot be mistaken or
    misunderstood; but he preferred to dismiss all reference to
    French constitutions or French codes, and “go back to the
    good old Anglo-Saxon language employed by our fathers in the
    Ordinance of 1787, an expression which has been adjudicated
    upon repeatedly, which is perfectly well understood both by the
    public and by judicial tribunals.”

    Mr. Sumner withdrew his proposition, which he called a
    “suggestion” only, and also “a sincere effort to contribute
    as much as he could to improve the proposition in form,” but
    could not resist the appeal of his friend, the Chairman of the
    Committee. He forbore to press any amendment.

    Mr. Sumner often regretted that he had not insisted upon a vote
    on striking out the clause giving implied sanction to slavery
    or involuntary servitude as “a punishment for crime.”

    April 8th, on the passage of the joint resolution, the vote
    stood, Yeas 38, Nays 6, when the Vice-President announced that
    the joint resolution, having received the concurrence of two
    thirds of the Senators present, was passed.

    May 31st, the joint resolution was taken up in the House of
    Representatives. Mr. Holman, of Indiana, objected to its second
    reading, and the Speaker stated the question, “Shall the joint
    resolution be rejected?” On this question the vote stood, Yeas
    55, Nays 76; and the joint resolution was not rejected. An
    excited debate occupied several days.

    June 15th, the vote was taken, and it stood, Yeas 95, Nays
    66, not voting 21. So the joint resolution failed, two
    thirds not voting in its favor. Mr. Ashley, of Ohio, a most
    strenuous supporter of the Constitutional Amendment, changed
    his vote from the affirmative to the negative, so as to move
    a reconsideration, which motion he made in the evening, and
    it was duly entered on the Journal, thus holding the joint
    resolution in suspense. The session of Congress closed without
    further action.

    At the next session the President in his Annual Message
    reminded Congress of the pending Constitutional Amendment, and
    recommended its “reconsideration and passage,” adding, that by
    the recent election the will of the majority was “most clearly
    declared in favor of such Constitutional Amendment.” January
    6, 1865, on motion of Mr. Ashley, the House of Representatives
    took up his motion to reconsider the vote of rejection.
    The debate, which was opened by him in an earnest speech,
    proceeded, with some interruptions, until January 31st, when
    he called the previous question on the motion. Mr. Stiles,
    of Pennsylvania, moved to lay the motion to reconsider on
    the table, which was lost,--Yeas 57, Nays 111. The previous
    question was then ordered. On the motion to reconsider, the
    vote stood, Yeas 112, Nays 57, not voting 13; but, a majority
    being sufficient for this purpose, the motion to reconsider
    was agreed to. The question then recurred on the passage of
    the joint resolution, when, on motion of Mr. Ashley, the
    previous question was ordered. Before this was done, he stated
    that to hasten a vote he had declined speaking. Mr. Brown,
    of Wisconsin, asked him to yield, so that he might “offer a
    substitute for the joint resolution.” Mr. Ashley could not
    yield; he had a substitute himself, which he should much prefer
    to the original joint resolution, but he did not offer it. On
    its final passage the vote stood, Yeas 119, Nays 56, not voting
    8. So the two thirds required by the Constitution having voted
    in its favor, the joint resolution was passed.

    All possible preparation had been made for the vote, and the
    attendance was unusually large, both of Representatives and
    spectators. The people throughout the country awaited the
    result with profound interest. The announcement by the Speaker
    was received with an outburst of enthusiasm in the Chamber.
    The Republican Representatives sprang to their feet and
    applauded with cheers and clapping of hands. The spectators in
    the crowded galleries followed the example, and for several
    minutes the Chamber was a scene of joy and congratulation. Mr.
    Ingersoll, of Illinois, then said, “In honor of this immortal
    and sublime event, I move that the House do now adjourn”; and
    the House adjourned.

    The joint resolution submitting the Constitutional Amendment
    bears date February 1, 1865. It now remained that the Amendment
    should be ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of
    the several States, there being at the time thirty-six. A
    certificate, announcing that this had been done, was issued
    by the Secretary of State, December 18, 1865, and from this
    date the Amendment became part of the Constitution. President
    Lincoln, who had watched this event with absorbing interest,
    did not live to witness the final result.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Mr. Sumner saw so clearly the delay incident to a
    Constitutional Amendment, and even the uncertainty with regard
    to its passage by Congress and adoption by the States, that,
    while supporting it cordially, he did not relax meanwhile his
    efforts for Congressional legislation against Slavery. Even if
    Congress could not be induced, in the exercise of its powers,
    to decree the death of the public enemy, he hoped that at least
    it would not hesitate to use all other powers to limit and
    weaken it, so that, should the Constitutional Amendment fail,
    or be postponed, Slavery would be in a condition from which
    it could not recover. His main postulate, that Slavery was
    contrary to Nature, and an outlaw, was important in sustaining
    action against it, whether by Constitutional Amendment or
    Congressional legislation. In the course of debate on another
    question, Mr. Sherman spoke incidentally of the Constitutional
    Amendment as “the main proposition,” when Mr. Sumner at once

        “The main proposition, Sir, is to strike Slavery wherever
        you can hit it; and I tell the Senator he will not
        accomplish his purpose, if he contents himself merely with
        a Constitutional Amendment. I am for a Constitutional
        Amendment; I have made the proposition in several forms:
        but how long will it take to carry that Amendment
        through both Houses of Congress, and then carry it to
        its final consummation in the votes of the Legislatures
        of three fourths of the several States, according to the
        requirements of the Constitution? Are we to postpone action
        on all these questions until that possibly distant day? No,

    The speech which follows was published originally under the
    title, “Universal Emancipation without Compensation.” In the
    edition of the Loyal Publication Society of New York the title
    was “No Property in Man.” These two titles present fundamental
    principles of special significance at that time. They were in
    the nature of answer to the clamor for compensation.


MR. PRESIDENT,--If an angel from the skies or a stranger from another
planet were permitted to visit this earth and to examine its surface,
who can doubt that his eyes would rest with astonishment upon the
outstretched extent and exhaustless resources of this republic,
young in years, but already rooted beyond any dynasty in history? In
proportion as he considered and understood all that enters into and
constitutes the national life, his astonishment would increase, for he
would find a numerous people, powerful beyond precedent, without king
or noble, but with the schoolmaster instead. And yet the astonishment
he confessed, as all these things unrolled before him, would swell into
marvel, as he learned that in this republic, arresting his admiration,
where is neither king nor noble, but the schoolmaster instead, there
are four million human beings in abject bondage, degraded to be
chattels, under the pretence of property in man, driven by the lash
like beasts, despoiled of all rights, even the right to knowledge
and the sacred right of family, so that the relation of husband and
wife is impossible and no parent can claim his own child, while all
are condemned to brutish ignorance. Startled by what he beheld,
the stranger would naturally inquire by what authority, under what
sanction, and through what terms of law or constitution, this fearful
inconsistency, so shocking to human nature itself, continues to be
upheld. His growing wonder would know no bound, when he was pointed
to the Constitution of the United States, as final guardian and
conservator of this peculiar and many-headed wickedness.

“And is it true,” the stranger would exclaim, “that, in laying the
foundations of this republic dedicated to human rights, all these
wrongs were positively established?” He would ask to see that
Constitution, and to know the fatal words by which the sacrifice was
commanded. The trembling with which he began its perusal would be
succeeded by joy as he finished; for he would find nothing in that
golden text, not a single sentence, phrase, or word even, to serve as
origin, authority, or apology for the outrage. And then his wonder,
already knowing no bound, would break forth anew, as he exclaimed,
“Shameful and irrational as is Slavery, it is not more shameful or
irrational than the unsupported interpretation which makes your
Constitution final guardian and conservator of this terrible and
unpardonable apostasy.”

Such a stranger, coming from afar, with eyes that no local bias had
distorted, and with understanding no local custom had disturbed, would
naturally see the Constitution in its precise text, and would interpret
it in its true sense, without prepossession or prejudice. Of course he
would know, what all jurisprudence teaches and all reason confirms,
that human rights cannot be taken away by any indirection, or by any
vain imagining of something intended, but not said, and, as a natural
consequence, that Slavery exists, if exist it can at all, only by
virtue of _positive text_, and that what is true of Slavery is true
also of all its incidents; and the enlightened stranger would insist,
that, in every interpretation of the Constitution, that cardinal
principle must never for a moment be out of mind, but must be kept ever
forward as guide and master, that _Slavery cannot stand on inference_,
nor can any support of Slavery stand on inference. Thus informed, and
in the light of pervasive principle,--

    “How far that little candle throws his beams!”--

he would peruse the Constitution from beginning to end, from its
opening Preamble to its final Amendment, and then the joyful opinion
would be given.

There are three things he must observe: first and foremost, that the
dismal words “Slave” and “Slavery” do not appear in the Constitution;
so that, if the unnatural pretension of property in man lurk anywhere
in that text, it is under a feigned name, or an _alias_, which is
cause of suspicion, while an imperative rule renders its recognition
impossible. Next, he would consider the Preamble, which is the key
to open the whole succeeding instrument; but here no single word
is found which does not open the Constitution to Freedom and close
it to Slavery. The object of the Constitution is announced to be
“in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of _liberty_ to ourselves
and our posterity”; all of which, in every particular, is absolutely
inconsistent with Slavery. And, thirdly, he would observe those
time-honored, most efficacious, chain-breaking words in the Amendments:
“_No person shall be deprived of_ life, _liberty_, or property,
_without due process of law_.” Scorning all false interpretations and
glosses fastened upon the Constitution in support of Slavery, and with
these three things before him, he would naturally declare that there
was nothing in the original text on which this appalling wrong could
be founded anywhere within the sphere of its operation. With wonder he
would ask again by what strange delusion or hallucination the reason
had been so far overcome as to recognize Slavery in the Constitution,
when plainly it is not there, and cannot be there. The answer is
humiliating, but easy.

People find in texts of Scripture the support of their own religious
opinions or prejudices; and, in the same way, they find in texts of the
Constitution the support of their political opinions or prejudices. And
this may not be in either case because Scripture or Constitution, when
truly interpreted, supports such opinions or prejudices, but because
people are apt to find in texts simply a reflection of themselves.
Most clearly and indubitably, whoever finds support of Slavery in the
National Constitution has first found such support in himself: not that
he will hesitate, perhaps, to condemn Slavery in words of approved
gentleness, but because, from unhappy education, or more unhappy
insensibility to the wrong, he has already conceded to it a certain
traditional foothold of immunity, which he straightway transfers from
himself to the Constitution. In dealing with this subject, it is not
the Constitution, so much as human nature itself, which is at fault.
Let the people change, and the Constitution will change also; for the
Constitution is but the shadow, while the people are the substance.

Thank God, under influence of the struggle for national life, and in
obedience to its incessant exigencies, the people have changed, and
in nothing so much as on Slavery. Old opinions and prejudices have
dissolved, and that traditional foothold Slavery once possessed is
gradually weakening, until now it scarcely exists. Naturally this
change must sooner or later show itself in the interpretation of the
Constitution. But it is already visible even there, in the concession
of powers over Slavery formerly denied. The time, then, has come when
the Constitution, so long interpreted for Slavery, may be interpreted
for Freedom. This is one stage of triumph. Universal emancipation,
which is at hand, can be won only by complete emancipation of the
Constitution itself, which has been so long degraded to wear chains
that its real character is scarcely known.

Sometimes the concession is made on the ground of _military
necessity_. The capacious war powers of the Constitution are invoked,
and it is said that in their legitimate exercise Slavery may be
destroyed. There is much in this concession,--more even than is
imagined by many from whom it proceeds. It is war, say they, which
puts these powers in motion; but they forget, that, wherever Slavery
exists, there is perpetual war,--that Slavery itself is a _state of
war_ between two races, where one is for the moment victor,--pictured
accurately by Jefferson as “permitting one half the citizens to trample
on the rights of the other, transforming those into despots and these
into enemies.”[274] Therefore, wherever Slavery exists, even in seeming
peace, the war powers may be invoked to terminate a condition which is
internecine, and to overthrow pretensions hostile to every attribute of
the Almighty.

It is not on military necessity alone that the concession is made.
Many, as they read the Constitution now, see its powers over Slavery
more clearly than before. The old superstition is abandoned; and they
join with Patrick Henry, when, in the Virginia Convention, he declared
the power of manumission accorded to Congress. He did not hesitate to
argue against the adoption of the Constitution, because it accorded
this power. And shall we be less perspicacious for Freedom than this
Virginia statesman for Slavery? Discerning the power, he confessed his
dismay: let us confess our joy.

We have already seen that Slavery finds no support in the Constitution.
Glance now at positive provisions by which it is brought completely
under control of Congress.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. First among the powers of Congress, and associated with the power
to lay and collect taxes, is that to “provide for the common defence
and general welfare.” It is questioned whether this is a substantive
power, or simply incident to that with which it is associated. But
it is difficult, if not absurd, to insist that Congress has not this
substantive power. Shall it not provide for the common defence? Shall
it not regard the general welfare? If powerless to do these things in a
great crisis, it had better abdicate. In the Virginia Convention, Mr.
George Mason, a most decided opponent of the Constitution, said: “That
Congress should have power to provide for the general welfare of the
Union _I grant_.”[275] The language of Patrick Henry, to which allusion
has just been made, was more explicit. He foresaw that this power would
be directed against Slavery, and did not hesitate to declare:--

    “Slavery is detested. We feel its fatal effects. We deplore it
    with all the pity of humanity. Let all these considerations,
    at some future period, press with full force on the minds of
    Congress; let that urbanity which, I trust, will distinguish
    America, and the necessity of national defence,--let all these
    things operate on their minds; they will search that paper [the
    Constitution] and see if they have power of manumission. And
    have they not, Sir? Have they not power _to provide for the
    general defence and welfare_? May they not think that these
    call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all
    slaves free? And will they not be warranted by that power? This
    is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. _The paper
    speaks to the point. They have the power in clear, unequivocal
    terms, and will dearly and certainly exercise it._”[276]

Language could not be more positive. To all who ask for the power of
Congress over Slavery, here is a sufficient answer; and remember that
this is not my speech, but the speech of Patrick Henry, who says that
the Constitution “speaks to the point.”

       *       *       *       *       *

2. Next comes the fountain, “Congress shall have power to declare war,
to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy.” A power
like this is from its nature unlimited. In raising and supporting an
army, in providing and maintaining a navy, Congress is not restricted
to any particular class or color. It may call upon all, and authorize
that _contract_ which the Government makes with an enlisted soldier.
But such contract would be in itself an act of manumission; for a slave
cannot make a contract. And if the contract be followed by actual
service, who can deny its completest efficacy in enfranchising the
soldier-slave and his whole family? Shakespeare, immortal teacher,
gives expression to an instinctive sentiment, when he makes Henry the
Fifth, on the eve of the victory at Agincourt, encourage his men by

    “For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition.”

       *       *       *       *       *

3. There is still another clause: “The United States shall guaranty
to every State in this Union _a republican form of government_.” Here
again is a plain duty. But the question recurs, What is a republican
form of government? John Adams, in the correspondence of his old age,

    “The customary meanings of the words _republic_ and
    _commonwealth_ have been infinite. They have been applied to
    every government under heaven,--that of Turkey and that of
    Spain, as well as that of Athens and of Rome, of Geneva and San

But the guaranty of a republican form of government must have
a meaning congenial with the purposes of the Constitution. If a
government like that of Turkey, or even that of Venice, could come
within the scope of this guaranty, it would be of little value; it
would be words, and nothing more. Evidently, it must be construed so
as to uphold the Constitution, according to all the promises of its
Preamble; and Mr. Madison has left a record, first published to the
Senate by the distinguished Senator from Vermont [Mr. COLLAMER], of
the Committee on the Library, showing that it was originally suggested
in part by the fear of Slavery,[278] so that in construing it we must
not forget the disturbing influence. The Preamble and the record are
important, disclosing the real intention. But no American need be at
loss to designate some of the distinctive elements of a republic,
according to the idea of American institutions. These are found, first,
in the Declaration of Independence, by which it is solemnly announced
“that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.” And they are found, secondly, in that other guaranty and
prohibition of the Constitution, in harmony with the Declaration: “_No
person_ shall be deprived of life, _liberty_, or property, _without due
process of law_.” Such are essential elements of “a republican form
of government,” which cannot be disowned without disowning the very
muniments of our liberties; and these the United States are bound to
guaranty. But all these, when set in motion, make Slavery impossible.
It is idle to say that this result was not anticipated. It would be,
then, only another illustration that our fathers “builded better than
they knew.”

       *       *       *       *       *

4. Independent of the guaranty, there is the other clause just quoted,
in itself a source of power: “_No person_ shall be deprived of life,
_liberty_, or property, _without due process of law_.” This was part of
the Constitutional Amendments proposed by the First Congress, under the
popular demand for a Bill of Rights. Though brief, it is a whole Bill
of Rights. Liberty can be lost only by “due process of law,”--words
borrowed from the ancient liberty-loving Common Law, illustrated by our
master in law, Lord Coke, but best explained by the late Mr. Justice
Bronson, of New York, in a judicial opinion:--

    “The meaning of the section, then, seems to be, that _no member
    of the State shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of his
    rights or privileges_, unless the matter shall be adjudged
    against him upon trial had according to the course of the
    Common Law.… The words ‘due process of law,’ in this place,
    cannot mean less than a prosecution or suit instituted and
    conducted according to the prescribed forms and solemnities for
    ascertaining guilt or determining the title to property.”[279]

Such is the protection thrown by the Constitution over every “person,”
without distinction of race or color, class or condition. There can
be no doubt about the universality of the protection. All, without
exception, come within its scope. The natural meaning is plain; but
there is an incident of history which makes it plainer still, excluding
all possibility of misconception. A clause of this character was
originally recommended as an Amendment by two Slave States, Virginia
and North Carolina, and by a slave-trading State, Rhode Island; but it
was restricted by them to _freemen_, thus: “No _freeman_ ought to be
deprived of his life, _liberty_, or property, but by _the law of the
land_.”[280] When the recommendation came before Congress, the word
“person” was substituted for “freeman,” and the more searching phrase
“due process of law” was substituted for “the law of the land.” In
making this change, rejecting the recommendation of slave-owning and
slave-trading States, the authors of this Amendment revealed their
purpose, that _no person_ wearing the human form should be deprived
of _liberty_ without due process of law; and the proposition was
adopted by the votes of Congress, and then of the States, as part of
the Constitution. Clearly, on its face, it is an express guaranty of
personal liberty, and an express prohibition of its invasion anywhere.

In the face of this guaranty and prohibition,--for it is both,--how
can any “person” be held as slave? Sometimes it is argued that
this provision must be restricted to places within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the National Government. Such formerly was my own
impression, often avowed in this Chamber; but I never doubted its
complete efficacy to render Slavery unconstitutional in all such
places, so that “no person” could be held as a slave at the national
capital or in any national territory. Constitutionally, Slavery has
always been an outlaw, wherever that provision of the Constitution
was applicable. Nobody doubted that it was binding on the national
courts; and yet it was left unexecuted, a dead letter, killed by the
predominant influence of Slavery, until at last Congress was obliged by
legislative act to do what the courts failed to do, and to terminate
Slavery in the national capital and national territories.

In this transcendent guaranty and prohibition there are no words of
exclusive jurisdiction. All is broad and general as the Constitution
itself; and since this provision is in support of human rights, it
cannot be restricted by any interpretation. There is no limitation in
it, and nobody can supply any such limitation, without encountering
the venerable maxim of law, _Impius et crudelis qui Libertati non
favet_,--“Impious and cruel is he who does not favor Liberty.” Long
enough have courts and Congress merited this condemnation. The time
has come when they should merit it no longer. The Constitution should
become a living letter under the predominant influence of Freedom. This
conviction has brought petitioners to Congress, during the present
session, asking that the Constitution shall be simply executed against
Slavery, and not altered. Ah, Sir, it would be a glad sight to see
that Constitution, which we have all sworn to support, interpreted
generously, nobly, gloriously for Freedom, so that everywhere within
its influence the chains should drop from the slave! If it be said
that this was not anticipated at its adoption, I remind you of Patrick
Henry, when, at the time, he said, “The paper speaks to the point.”
No doubt, it does speak to the point, especially with the Amendments
immediately thereafter adopted. Cicero preferred to err with Plato
rather than to think right with other men. And pardon me, if, when my
country is in peril from Slavery, and human rights are to be rescued, I
prefer to err with Patrick Henry, in assuming power for Freedom, rather
than to think right with Senators who hesitate in such a cause.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, thus stands the case. There is nothing in the
Constitution on which Slavery can rest, or find any the least support.
Even on the face of that instrument it is an _outlaw_; but if we look
further into its provisions, we find at least four distinct sources
of power, which, if executed, must render Slavery impossible, while
the Preamble makes them all vital for Freedom: first, the power to
provide for the common defence and general welfare; secondly, the power
to raise armies and maintain navies; thirdly, the power to guaranty
a republican form of government; and, fourthly, the power to secure
_Liberty_ against all restraint without due process of law. But all
these provisions are something more than powers; _they are duties
also_. And yet we are constantly and painfully reminded that pending
measures against Slavery are unconstitutional. Sir, this is an immense
mistake. _Nothing against Slavery can be unconstitutional._ It is
hesitation that is unconstitutional.

And yet Slavery still exists, in defiance of all these requirements;
nay, more, in defiance of reason and justice, which can never be
disobeyed with impunity, it exists, the perpetual spoiler of human
rights and disturber of the public peace, degrading master as well
as slave, corrupting society, weakening government, impoverishing
the very soil itself, and impairing the natural resources of the
country. Such an outrage, so offensive in every respect, not only
to the Constitution, but also to the whole system of order by which
the universe is governed, can be nothing but _a national nuisance_,
which, for the general welfare, and in the name of justice, ought to
be abated. But at this moment, when it menaces the national life, it
is not enough to treat Slavery merely as a nuisance, for it is much
more. It is a public enemy and traitor, wherever it shows itself, to be
subdued, in the discharge of solemn guaranties of Government, and in
the exercise of unquestionable and indefeasible rights of self-defence.
All now admit that in the Rebel States it is _a public enemy and
traitor_, so that the Rebellion is seen in Slavery, and Slavery is
seen in the Rebellion. But Slavery throughout the country, everywhere
within the national limits, is a living Unit, one and indivisible,--and
thus even outside the Rebel States it is the same public enemy and
traitor, lending succor to the Rebellion, and holding out “blue lights”
to encourage and direct its operations. But whether national nuisance
or public enemy and traitor, it is obnoxious to the same judgment, and
must be abolished.

If, in abolishing Slavery, injury were done to the just interests of
any human being, or to rights of any kind, there might be something
to “give us pause,” even against these irresistible requirements. But
nothing of the kind can ensue. No just interests and no rights can
suffer. It is the rare felicity of such an act, as well outside as
inside the Rebel States, that, while striking a blow at the Rebellion,
and assuring future tranquillity, so that the Republic shall be no
longer a house divided against itself, it will add at once to the value
of the whole fee simple wherever Slavery exists, will secure individual
rights, and will advance civilization itself.

There is another motive at this time. Embattled armies stand face
to face, one side fighting for Slavery. The gauntlet that has been
flung down we have taken up in part only. Abolishing Slavery entirely,
we take up the gauntlet entirely. Then can we look with confidence
to Almighty God for His blessing upon our arms. “Till America comes
into this measure,” said John Jay during the Revolution, “her prayers
to Heaven for Liberty will be impious.”[281] So long as we sustain
Slavery, so long as we hesitate to strike at Slavery, the heavy
battalions of our armies will fail. Sir Giles Overreach, attempting to
draw his sword, found it “glued to the scabbard with wronged orphans’
tears.” God forbid that our soldiers shall find their swords “glued”
with the tears of the slave!

One question, and only one, rises in our path,--and this simply because
the national representatives have been so long drugged and drenched
with Slavery, which they have taken in all forms, whether of dose or
douche, that, like a long-suffering patient, they are still sunk under
its influence. I refer, of course, to the talk of compensation, under
the shameful assumption that there can be property in man. Sir, there
was a moment when I was willing to pay for Emancipation largely, or at
least to any reasonable amount; but it was _as ransom_, and never as
compensation. Thank God, that time has passed, never to return,--and
simply because money is no longer needed for the purpose. Our
fathers, under Washington, never paid the Algerines for our enslaved
fellow-citizens, except as ransom; and they ceased all such tribute,
when emancipation could be had without it. Such must be our rule. Any
other would impoverish the Treasury for nothing. The time has come
for the old tocsin to sound, “Millions for defence, not a cent for
tribute!” Ay, Sir; millions of dollars--with millions of strong arms
also--for defence against Slave-Masters; but not a cent for tribute to

If money is paid as compensation, clearly it cannot be awarded to
the master, who for generations robbed the slave of his toil and
all its fruits, so that, in justice, he may be treated as trustee
of accumulated earnings with interest never paid over. Any money as
compensation must belong, every dollar, to the slave. If the case were
audited in Heaven’s chancery, there must be another allowance for
prolonged denial of inestimable rights. Loss of wages may be estimated;
but where is the tariff or price-current by which to determine
those greater losses which have been the lot of every slave? Mortal
arithmetic is impotent to assess the fearful sum-total. In presence of
this infinite responsibility, the whole question must be referred to
that other tribunal where master and slave are equal, while Infinite
Wisdom tempers justice with mercy. There is a Persian tradition of
Mahomet once saying that the greatest mortification at the Day of
Judgment will be when the pious slave is carried to Paradise and the
wicked master condemned to Hell.[282] It is only with finite powers
that we on earth can imitate Divine Justice.

The theory of compensation is founded on the intolerable assumption
of property in man, an idea which often intrudes into these debates,
sometimes from open vindicators, and sometimes from others, who, while
yielding, yet reluctantly yield, and thus their conduct is “sicklied
o’er” with Slavery. Sir, parliamentary law must be observed; but, if in
a parliamentary assembly indignant hisses are ever justifiable, they
ought to break forth at every mention of this thing, whatever form it
takes,--whether of arrogant claim, or mildest suggestion, or equivocal
hint. Impious toward God, and infidel toward man, it is disowned by
conscience and reason alike; nor is there any softness of argument or
of phrase by which its essential wickedness can be disguised. “The fool
hath said in his heart there is no God”; but it is kindred folly to say
there is no Man. The first is Atheism, and the second is like unto the
first. If in this world a man owns anything, it is himself. This is
his great patrimony, alike from his earthly father and his Father in
Heaven. It is indefeasible and perpetual,--not to be sold, not to be
bought. Always owning himself, he cannot be owned by another.[283]

No man can make black white or wrong right; nor can any Congress or any
multitude overcome the everlasting law of justice.

According to a well-known and capital principle of jurisprudence,
stolen property cannot be sold, and the attempt to sell it, knowing
the primary abstraction, is a crime. The form of sale is impotent, and
the title does not pass. Wherever he finds his property, the original
owner may resume it as his own. The pawnbroker who has received it in
pledge must release his hold; the purchaser who has paid the price
must give it up. But can a stolen man be sold? Is there any form of
sale which is not impotent to complete this great transfer, so as to
give it the semblance of validity against the original owner? Can the
title pass? Infinitely absurd and unnatural is the pretext that a man
may reclaim his stolen coat wherever he finds it, but cannot reclaim
himself! Is the coat more than the man? Slavery asserts that it is;
and the whole country says the same, when it sanctions the return of a
fugitive slave. But this pretension is only a further outgrowth of that
appalling tyranny which begins by denying the right of a man to himself.

The Christian Church, by beautiful, glorious example, testifies
from earliest days against this pretension. Hermes, Prefect of Rome,
converted to Christ, comes to church on Easter with twelve hundred and
fifty slaves, whom after baptism he sets free. Chromatius, another
Prefect of Rome, under Diocletian, also a convert, gives liberty after
baptism to fourteen hundred, while he proclaims, “They who begin to be
children of God must not be slaves of men.” St. Germain, the admirable
Bishop of Paris, on receiving alms, cries out, “Thanks be to God, we
can now ransom a slave!” This list might be extended. Better even
than such personal testimony is the same sentiment manifest in social
institutions. St. Theodore, illustrious in the Eastern Church, imposed
this rule upon its monasteries: “You must never employ slaves, neither
in personal service, nor in affairs of the convent, nor in culture
of the earth; _the slave is a man created in the image of God_.” The
Church of the West was not less earnest. St. Benedict of Aniane, the
second of the name in canonization, would not allow convents to be
served by a slave. In the bosom of these retreats, as also in the
priesthood, the former slave mingled with the former lord, nor was
there any obstacle between him and the bishop’s crosier. Onesimus, once
the slave of Philemon, and hailed as brother beloved by Paul, is said
to have become bishop of Ephesus.[284]

In the testimony of the Christian Church there is one character of
precious example: I refer to Pope Gregory, justly meriting by his life
the title of Great, which has been preserved by history. Through him
England first tasted the blessings of Christianity. Fair-haired Saxons
from the distant island, standing for sale in the market of Rome,
enlisted his sympathy. When told that they were Angles, he exclaimed,
“Not Angles, but Angels,”--“_Non Angli, sed Angeli_”--and he insisted
on their ransom and instruction to become the apostles of their
countrymen. Under his auspices St. Augustin commenced the work, so that
the conversion of England may be traced to the sympathies aroused by
English slaves on the banks of the Tiber. A letter from St. Gregory
shows the spirit in which he acted. Giving freedom to two bondmen,
he wrote these commanding words: “Since our Redeemer, Maker of the
whole creation, being hereto propitiated, has been pleased to assume
human flesh, that, by the grace of his divinity, the chain of slavery
wherewith we were held captive being broken, he might restore us to
pristine liberty, it is well that men whom Nature from the beginning
has brought forth free and the law of nations has subjected to the
yoke of servitude, should by benefit of manumission be restored to the
liberty wherein they were born.”[285] And do not these words speak to
us now?

Foremost of all in history who have vindicated human liberty, and
associated their names with it forevermore, stands John Milton,
Secretary of Oliver Cromwell, and author of “Paradise Lost.” Cradled
under a lawless royalty, he helped to found and support the English
Commonwealth, while in all that he wrote he pleaded for human
rights,--now in defence of the English people, who had beheaded their
king, and now in immortal poems which show how wisely and well he loved
the cause he had made his own. Nowhere has the assumption of property
in man been encountered more completely than in the conversation
between the Archangel and Adam, after the former had pictured a hunter
whose game was “men, not beasts”:--

    “O execrable son, so to aspire
    Above his brethren, to himself assuming
    Authority usurped, from God not given!
    He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl
    Dominion absolute; that right we hold
    By His donation; but man over men
    He made not lord, such title to Himself
    Reserving, human left from human free.”[286]

Every assertor of this property puts himself in the very place of
the hunter of “men, not beasts,” described as “execrable son, so
to aspire.” The language is not too strong. “Execrable” is the
assumption,--“execrable” wherever made: “execrable” on the plantation,
“execrable” in this Chamber, “execrable” in every form it takes,
“execrable” in all its consequences, especially “execrable” as an
apology for hesitation against Slavery. The assumption, wherever it
shows itself, must be beaten down under our feet, like Satan himself,
in whom it has its origin.

Again, we are brought by learned Senators to the Constitution, which
requires that there shall be “just compensation,” where “private
property” is taken for public use. But, plainly, here the requirement
is absolutely inapplicable, for there is no “private property” to
take. Slavery is but a bundle of barbarous pretensions, from which
certain persons are to be released. At what price shall the bundle be
estimated? How much shall be paid for the controlling pretension of
property in man? How much allowed for that other pretension to shut
the gates of knowledge, and keep the victim from the Book of Life? How
much given for ransom from the pretension to rob a human being of his
toil and all its fruits? And, Sir, what “just compensation” shall be
voted for renouncing that Heaven-defying pretension, too disgusting
to picture, which, trampling on the most sacred relations, makes wife
and child the wretched prey of lust and avarice? Let these pretensions
be renounced, and Slavery ceases to exist; but there can be no “just
compensation” for any such renunciation. Heart, reason, religion, the
Constitution itself, rise in judgment against it. As well vote “just
compensation” to the hardened offender who renounces disobedience to
the Ten Commandments, and promises that he will cease to steal, cease
to commit adultery, and cease to covet his neighbor’s wife! Ay, Sir,
there is nothing in the Constitution to sanction any such outrage. Such
an appropriation would be unconstitutional.

Mr. Madison said in the Convention that it was “wrong to admit in
the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”[287]
Of course it was wrong. It was criminal and unpardonable. Thank God,
it was not done. But Senators admit this “idea” daily. They take it
from themselves, and then introduce it where Mr. Madison said it was
“wrong.” But if “wrong” at the adoption of the Constitution, how
much worse now! There is no instinct of patriotism, as there is no
conclusion of reason, which must not be against the abomination; and
yet, Sir, it is allowed to enter into these debates. Sometimes it
stalks, and sometimes it skulks; but whether stalking or skulking, it
must be encountered with the same indignant rebuke, until it ventures
no longer to show its head.

Putting aside, then, all objection, whether from open opposition or
lukewarm support, the great question recurs, that question which
dominates this debate, How shall Slavery be overthrown? The answer
is threefold: first, by the courts, declaring and applying the true
principles of the Constitution; secondly, by Congress, in the exercise
of the powers belonging to it; and, thirdly, by the people, through
an Amendment of the Constitution. Court, Congress, people, all may be
invoked; and the occasion justifies the appeal.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. Let the appeal be made to the courts. But, alas! one of the saddest
chapters in our history is the conduct of judges, lending themselves
to the support of Slavery. Injunctions of the Constitution, guaranties
of personal liberty, and prohibitions against its invasion have all
been forgotten. Courts, which should be asylums of Liberty, have been
changed into strongholds of Slavery; and the Supreme Court of the
United States, by final decision as shocking to the Constitution as
to the public conscience, proclaimed itself tutelary stronghold of
all. It was part of the national calamity, that, under the influence
of Slavery, Justice, like Astræa of old, fled. But now, at last, in
a regenerated Republic, with Slavery waning, and the people rising
in judgment against it, let us hope that the judgments of courts may
be reconsidered, and the powers of the Constitution in behalf of
Liberty fully exercised, so that human bondage shall no longer find an
unnatural support from the lips of judges,--

              “and ancient fraud shall fail,
    Returning Justice lift aloft her scale.”

Sir, no court can afford to do an act of wrong. Its business is
justice; and when, under any apology, it ceases to do justice, it loses
those titles to reverence otherwise so willingly bestowed. There are
instances of great magistrates openly declaring disobedience to laws
“against common right and reason,” and their names are mentioned with
gratitude in the history of jurisprudence. There are other instances of
men holding the balance and the sword, whose names are gathered into
a volume as “atrocious judges.” If our judges, cruelly interpreting
the Constitution in favor of Slavery, do not come into the latter
class, they can claim no place among those others who have stood for
justice, like the rock on which the sea breaks in idle spray. Vainly
do you attempt to frame injustice into a law, or to sanctify it by any
judgment of court. From Cicero we learn, that, “if commands of the
people, if decrees of princes, if _opinions of judges_ were sufficient
to constitute right, then were it right to commit highway robbery,
right to commit adultery, right to set up forged wills.”[288] And
Augustine tells us, with saintly authority, that what is unjust cannot
be law.[289] Every law and every judgment of court, to be binding, must
have at its back the everlasting, irrepealable law of God. Doubtless
the model decision of the American bench, destined to be quoted
hereafter with most honor, because the boldest in its conformity with
great principles of humanity and social order, was that of the Vermont
judge who refused to surrender a fugitive slave _until his pretended
master could show a title-deed from the Almighty_.

But courts have no longer occasion for such boldness. They need not
step outside the Constitution. It is only needed that they should
follow just principles in its interpretation. Let them be guided by a
teacher like Edmund Burke, who spoke as follows:--

    “_Men cannot covenant themselves out of their rights and their
    duties_; nor by any other means can arbitrary power be conveyed
    to any man. _Those who give to others such rights perform acts
    that are void as they are given.…_ Those who give and those who
    receive arbitrary power are alike criminal, and there is no man
    but is bound to resist it to the best of his power, wherever
    it shall show its face to the world. It is a crime to bear it,
    when it can be rationally shaken off.”[290]

Or let them be guided by that other teacher, Lord Chatham, when he

    “With respect to the decisions of courts of justice, I am
    far from denying them their due weight and authority; yet,
    placing them in the most respectable view, I still consider
    them, not as law, but as an evidence of the law; and before
    they can arrive even at that degree of authority, it must
    appear that they are founded in and confirmed by reason,--that
    they are supported by precedents taken from good and moderate
    times,--that they do not contradict any positive law,--that
    they are submitted to without reluctance by the people,--that
    they are unquestioned by the legislature (which is equivalent
    to a tacit confirmation),--_and, what in my judgment is by far
    the most important, that they do not violate the spirit of the

Or let them go back to that early Spanish testimony against the
Slave-Trade and Slavery, when De Soto, in lectures at Salamanca, thus

    “It is affirmed that the unhappy Ethiopians are by fraud or
    force carried away and sold as slaves. If this is true, neither
    those who have taken them, nor those who purchased them, nor
    those who hold them in bondage can ever have a quiet conscience
    till they emancipate them, _even if no compensation should be

Or, let them accept the unanswerable judgment of that acute moralist,
the late Archbishop Whately, who in simple words shows the superior
title of the slave:--

    “A slave cannot fairly be called a thief for taking anything
    from his master, or for stealing his own liberty. He may be
    considered as in an enemy’s country, in the midst of those who
    recognize no rights of his as against them, and who therefore
    have no rights as against him.”[293]

If courts were thus inspired, it is easy to see that Slavery would
disappear under righteous judgment.

       *       *       *       *       *

2. Unhappily, courts will not perform the duty of the hour, and we
turn elsewhere. Appeal must be made to Congress; and here, as has been
fully developed, the powers are ample, unless in their interpretation
you surrender in advance to Slavery. By a single brief statute,
Congress may sweep Slavery out of existence. Patrick Henry saw and
declared, that, under the influence of a growing detestation of Slavery
and the increasing “urbanity” of the people, this must be expected,
while all the capacious war powers proclaim trumpet-tongued that it can
be done constitutionally, and the peace powers echo back the war powers.

Here we encounter again the “execrable” pretension of property in man,
with the attendant claim of “just compensation” for the renunciation of
Heaven-defying wrongs. But this is no more incident to abolition by Act
of Congress than by Amendment of the Constitution; so that, “if just
compensation” can be discarded in one case, it can be in the other. But
the votes on the latter proposition already taken in the Senate testify
that it is discarded. Sir, let the “execrable” pretension never again
be named, except for condemnation, no matter how or when it appears, or
what form it takes. Let the “idea,” originally branded as so “wrong”
that it could not find place in the Constitution, never find place in
our debates.

Even if Congress be not prepared for that single decisive measure
promptly ending this whole question and striking Slavery to death,
there are other measures by which the end may be hastened. The towering
Upas may be girdled, even if not felled at once to earth. Already, by
Acts of Congress, Slavery is abolished in the national capital and in
the national territories. This is not enough.

The Fugitive Slave Bill, conceived in iniquity, and imposed upon the
North as a badge of subjugation, may be repealed.

The coastwise Slave-Trade may be deprived of all support in the

The traffic in human beings, as an article of “commerce among the
States,” may be extirpated.

And, above all, that odious rule of evidence, so injurious to justice
and discreditable to the country, excluding the testimony of colored
persons, may be abolished, at least in national courts.

And there is one other thing to be done. The enlistment of colored
persons must be encouraged by legislation in every possible form; for
enlistment is emancipation. That contract whereby the soldier-slave
promises service at hazard of life, like the contract of marriage,
fixes the equality of the parties, which Congress, for the national
defence, and the national character also, will sacredly maintain.

All these things at least may be done, and, when they are done, Heaven
and Earth will be glad, for they will have assurance that all will be

       *       *       *       *       *

3. Nor will even these suffice. The people must be summoned to confirm
the whole work. It is for them to put the capstone upon the sublime
structure. An Amendment of the Constitution may do what courts and
Congress decline to do, or, even should they act, it may cover their
action with its panoply. Such an Amendment will give completeness and
permanence to Emancipation, while bringing the Constitution into avowed
harmony with the Declaration of Independence. Happy day, long wished
for, destined to gladden those beatified spirits who have labored on
earth to this end, but died without the sight!

And yet I would not indiscreetly take counsel of our hopes. From the
nature of the case, such an Amendment cannot be consummated at once.
Time must intervene, with opportunities of opposition. It can pass
Congress only by a vote of two thirds in both branches; and then it
must be adopted by the Legislatures of three fourths of the States.
Even under most favorable circumstances, it is impossible to say when
it can become part of the Constitution. Too tardily, I fear, for all
the good that is sought. Therefore I am not content with this measure
alone. It postpones till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day; and I
much fear that it will be made the apology for indifference to other
efforts of direct practical value,--as if it were pardonable to neglect
for a day the duties we owe to Human Rights.

    “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death.”

When will rise that to-morrow’s sun, to witness that other sun filling
the land with the light of Freedom?

For myself, let me confess, that, in presence of the mighty events
now thronging, I feel how insignificant is any individual, whether
citizen or Senator; and yet, humbly longing to do my part, I would not
put off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day,--especially can I
not consent to this great postponement. Our fellow-men are in bonds:
they must be relieved. Most beautiful that ancient story, where the
philosopher, while on a mission to a great king for the release of
captives, being invited to sup, replied in the famous words of Ulysses,
“O Circe! what man of a right mind could let himself touch meat or
drink before he had ransomed his companions and beheld them with his
eyes?” The philosopher did not speak in vain. The captives were set
free at once.[294]

Beyond my general desire to see an act of universal emancipation, at
once and forever settling this great question, so that it may no longer
be the occasion of strife between us, there are two other objects ever
present to my mind as a practical legislator: first, to strike at
Slavery wherever I can hit it; and, secondly, to clear the statute-book
of all existing supports of Slavery, so that this great wrong may find
nothing there to which it can cling for life. Less than this, at the
present moment, when Slavery is still menacing, would be abandonment of

So long as a single slave continues anywhere beneath the flag of the
Republic, I am unwilling to rest. Too well I know the vitality of
Slavery with its infinite capacity of propagation, and how little
Slavery it takes to make a Slave State with all the cruel pretensions
of Slavery. The down of a single thistle is full of all possible
thistles, and a single fish is said to contain many millions of eggs,
so that the whole sea may be stocked from its womb.

       *       *       *       *       *

The modern founder of political science, Machiavelli, writer as well
as statesman, in his most instructive work, the Discourses on Livy, has
a chapter entitled, “For a Republic to have long life, it is necessary
to bring it back often to its origin”:[295] where he shows how the
native virtue in which a Republic was founded becomes so far corrupted
that in process of time the body-politic is destroyed,--as in the case
of the natural body, where, according to the doctors of medicine,
something is daily added, from time to time requiring cure. The
remarkable publicist teaches under this head that Republics are brought
back to their origin, and to the principles in which they were founded,
by pressure from without, where prudence fails within; and he affirms
that the destruction of Rome by the Gauls was necessary, in order that
the Republic might have a new birth, with new life and new virtue,--all
of which ensued, when the barbarians were driven back. If the
illustration is fanciful, there is wisdom in the counsel; and now the
time has come for its application. The Gauls are upon us, not from a
distance, but domestic Gauls, flinging their swords, like Brennus, into
the scales; and we, too, may profit by the occasion to secure for the
Republic a new birth, with new life and new virtue. Happily, the way
is easy; for there is no doubt of its baptismal vows, or the declared
sentiments of its origin. There is the Declaration of Independence:
let its solemn promises be redeemed. There is the Constitution: let
it speak according to the promises of the Declaration. Let it speak,
and the last act of the great American tragedy will be ended, while
the stage is piled with corpses. From its early beginning in the hold
of the Dutch ship on its way to Jamestown, as the Pilgrims in the
Mayflower were on their way to Plymouth, down to this bloody Rebellion,
Slavery has been a prolonged tragedy. History and Art will hereafter
portray the scenes. Nor can its death be otherwise than an epoch, not
only for our own country, but for mankind. Slavery in its distant
origin was the substitute for death. The slave was allowed to live,
but without the rights of man. Instead of death in the grave with
its insensibility and decay, there was death in life with constant
degradation and suffering. Hence in all ages the awakened sympathies of
the good and humane,--heard sometimes in sorrow for the unhappy fate of
an individual, and then in appeal for a race.

How truly affecting are the words of Homer, depicting the wife of
Hector toiling as bondwoman at the looms of her Grecian master,--or
those other undying words which exhibit man in Slavery as shorn of half
his worth! The story of Joseph sold by his brothers has been repeated
in every form, touching innumerable hearts. Borrowed from the Bible, it
figured in the moralities of the Middle Ages and in the later theatre
of France. How genius triumphed over Slavery is part of this testimony.
Æsop, the fabulist,--one of the world’s greatest teachers, if not
lawgivers,--was a slave; so also was Phædrus, the Roman fabulist, whose
lessons are commended by purity and elegance; and so, too, was Alcman,
the lyric, who shed upon Sparta the grace of poesy. To these add
Epictetus, sublime in morals,--and Terence, incomparable in comedy, who
gave to the world that immortal verse, which excited the applause of
the Roman theatre, “I am a man, and nothing which concerns mankind is
foreign to me.” Nor should it be forgotten that the life of Plato was
checkered by Slavery.

In later days the sympathy is more for a race than for individuals.
Unhappily, the ban of color has become a certificate of Slavery, and a
large portion of the human family, whose offence was a skin darkened by
the hand of God, has been degraded to the condition of chattels. The
sympathies once awakened only for illustrious gifts are now bestowed
upon suffering humanity, marking an advance in civilization. To be a
man is a sufficient title-deed for the rights of man, which we seek to
establish. But their triumph among us will be the certain herald of
triumph everywhere. In other places Slavery may linger yet a little
longer; but its death here will make its continued existence impossible
wherever civilization prevails.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, the immediate question before us is on the proposition
to prohibit Slavery in our country by Constitutional Amendment; and
here I hope to be indulged with regard to the form it should take. A
new text of the Constitution cannot be considered too carefully even in
this respect, especially when it is nothing less than a new article of
Freedom. For a moment we are performing something of that duty which
belongs to the _conditores imperiorum_, placed foremost by Lord Bacon
in “the degrees of sovereign honor,”[296] and “words” become “things.”
From the magnitude of the task we may naturally borrow circumspection,
and I approach this part of the question with suggestion rather than

Let me say frankly that I should prefer a form of expression different
from that having the favor of the Committee. They have selected what
was intended for the old Jeffersonian Ordinance, sacred in our history,
although, let me add, they have not imitated it closely. But I must be
pardoned, if I venture to doubt the expediency of perpetuating in the
Constitution language which, if it have any signification, seems to
imply that “Slavery or involuntary servitude” may be provided for “the
punishment of crime.” Instances anterior to the Constitution show the
origin of this exception. In the absence of penitentiaries, Slavery was
a punishment adjudged by courts. According to early Colonial records in
Massachusetts, one William Andrews “was censured to be severely whipped
and delivered up as a slave to whom the Court shall appoint.”[297]
But it cannot be intended to sanction such judgment now. There can be
no reason why Slavery should not be forbidden positively and without
exception, especially as “imprisonment” cannot be confounded with this
“peculiar” wrong. If my desires could prevail, I would put aside the
Ordinance, and find another form.

I know nothing better than this:--

    “All persons are equal before the law, so that no person can
    hold another as a slave: and the Congress shall have the power
    to make all laws necessary and proper to carry this declaration
    into effect everywhere within the United States and the
    jurisdiction thereof.”

By the latter clause the declaration is plainly applicable to the
States, while the earlier words assert the equality of all persons
before the law,--a fruitful principle, assuring to all the same rights.
_Inter pares non est potestas_, “Among equals there is no superiority,”
is a received maxim of law, expressing a natural truth. Therefore,
where all are equal, there can be no Slavery; so that, in declaring
equality before the law, you make Slavery, alike with superiority,
impossible. This language, though unknown to the Common Law and new in
our country, has a fixed place in modern constitutional history. To
understand how it has reached its present authority we must repair for
a moment to France, so rich in experience and in genius.

Bills of Rights in England were moderate in terms, compared with our
Declaration of Independence, and with the Declarations of Rights first
announced by France in the throes of terrible revolution, and since
recognized among the permanent triumphs of that prodigious outbreak.
Until this period there had been no written Constitution in France,
though since there have been many in succession. The earliest, in
September, 1791, was preceded by a Declaration of Rights, proposed by
Lafayette, which, after setting forth that “ignorance, forgetfulness,
or contempt of the rights of man are the sole causes of public evils
and of the corruption of Governments,” undertakes to announce what it
calls “the natural rights of man, inalienable and sacred”; and this is

    “To the end that this Declaration, being constantly present to
    all the members of the social body, may incessantly recall to
    them their rights and their duties; to the end that the acts of
    the legislative power, and those of the executive power, being
    every moment capable of comparison with the object of every
    political institution, may be more respected by them; to the
    end that the claims of the citizens, being henceforth founded
    on simple and incontestable principles, may always turn to the
    maintenance of the Constitution and to the happiness of all.”

This too elaborate, but instructive preamble, is followed by an
article with a generality of expression not unlike that of our own

    “ARTICLE I. Men are born and continue free and _equal in

In the sixth article of the Declaration this is explained by declaring
that the law “ought to be the same for all, whether it protect, whether
it punish,” and then it speaks of “all citizens being _equal in its

In June, 1793, another Constitution was adopted, which, after a brief
preamble, opens with these articles:--

    “ARTICLE I. The object of society is the common happiness.
    Government is instituted to guaranty to man the enjoyment of
    his natural and imprescriptible rights.

    “ARTICLE II. These rights are equality, liberty, security,

    “ARTICLE III. _All men are equal_ by nature and _before the

Here the new statement begins to appear. Men are equal by nature and
before the law.

“Equal before the law.” This term, which, by its essential accuracy
and self-limitation, excludes all uncertainty, exaggeration, or
vagueness, was already known in the literature of France. Voltaire,
whose wonderful genius was so peculiarly French, with that constant
clearness which is the boast of the French language, had used it in
one of his philosophical poems, where political truth is commended
in the manner of Pope. The first of these was in 1734, on “Equality
of Conditions,” where he says, “Mortals are equal; their mask is
different”; and then, “To have the same rights to happiness, this is
for us the perfect and only equality”;[300] thus, like our Declaration
of Independence, placing “the pursuit of happiness” among natural
rights. This assertion of equal rights was defined in the poem on “The
Law of Nature,” addressed to Frederick, King of Prussia, and written in
1752, where he says, “_The law_ in every State ought to be universal;
_mortals_, whoever they may be, _are equal before it_.” But I cite the
precise words:--

    “_La loi_ dans tout État doit être universelle:
    Les mortels, quels qu’ils soient, _sont égaux devant elle_.”[301]

This happy statement naturally passed from the poem to the Constitution.

It was much to declare equality; it was more still to do it with
accuracy of form defying assault. This conquest of the Revolution
assumed its most precise enunciation on the restoration of the
Bourbons, when it appeared as the first article in the Constitutional
Charter of Louis the Eighteenth, promulgated in 1814.

    “ARTICLE I. _Frenchmen are equal before the law_, whatever may
    otherwise be their titles and their ranks.”[302]

And it was repeated by Napoleon, April 22, 1815, on his return from

At the installation of Louis Philippe as king, in August, 1830, with
Lafayette by his side, the same declaration was placed at the head of
the Constitutional Charter.[304]

Meanwhile this expression passed from France into the Constitutions
of other countries: of Holland, in 1801, where the declaration was,
“All members of society are equal before the law, without distinction
of rank or birth”;[305] of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, created by
Napoleon in 1807, where we meet these terms: “Slavery is abolished;
all citizens are equal before the law”;[306] of the Canton of Zug,
in Switzerland, in 1814, where, among “General Principles,” is the
article, “All the citizens of the Canton are equal before the law,
and there are no subjects in the Canton of Zug”;[307] of Bavaria, in
1818, where “equality of the rights of the citizens before the law”
is enumerated in the preamble among “the principal features of the
Constitution”;[308] of Bolivia, in South America, where in 1825 we meet
the words, “All citizens are equal before the law”;[309] of Portugal,
in 1826, where it is declared, “The law is equal for all, whether it
protects, whether it punishes”;[310] of Brazil, where in the same year
was a similar declaration;[311] and then of Greece, not only in the
Provisional Constitution of 1822, but in the permanent Constitution
of 1827, when the Greek nation “proclaims before God and before man
its political existence and its independence,” and then among its
fundamental principles declares, “All Greeks are equal before the

The French Revolution of 1830 quickened this statement anew. Belgium
adopted it in 1831,[313] and even Austria in 1849; the latter power as
follows: “All subjects are equal before the law, and judged according
to the same fundamental rights”;[314] and Sardinia, in 1848, as
follows: “All natives of the kingdom, whatever their titles or their
rank, are equal before the law.”[315] The same words reappear in the
Fundamental Statute of Italy, in 1861, when that classical land became
a nation.[316]

Doubtless the extensive adoption of this formula testifies to its
value in expressing an important principle, being nothing less than
the primal truth declared by our fathers. All will confess its
comparative precision. The sophistries of Calhoun, founded on the
obvious inequalities of body and mind, are all overthrown by this
simple statement, which, though borrowed latterly from France, is older
than French history. I have had occasion before to remind the curious
student that the ancient Greek of Herodotus supplies a single word for
this phrase, when it is said that “the Government of the many has the
most beautiful name of ἰσονομία,” or _equality before the law_.[317]
The father of history was right. The name is most beautiful. But he
did not see all its beauty; nor did the three Persian satraps, whose
dialogue he reports,[318] know how great a truth was revealed. Not till
after generations and ages had passed was _equality before the law_
authoritatively declared; and now, while involving it as a rule, we
repair to that bountiful Greek tongue, which, at that early day, by a
single word, anticipated our modern exigency. Such a word, originally
adopted in our Declaration of Independence, would have superseded

Enough has been said to explain the origin of a term which has played
an important part. Though traced to distant antiquity, and now adopted
in various countries, it derives its modern authority from France,
where it is the “well-ripened fruit” of unprecedented experience in
the discussion of great problems in political science. Naturally, it
does not come from England; for the idea finds little favor in that
hierarchical kingdom. In France Equality prevails more than Liberty: in
England Liberty more than Equality. Here among us both should find a
home; and such a declaration as I now propose, embodying _Liberty and
Equality_, will keep the double idea perpetual in the public mind and
conscience, “to warn, to comfort, and command.” The denial of Liberty
in the Rebel States begins with the denial of Equality; so that our
work is not completely done without the assertion of both principles.

       *       *       *       *       *

In making Equality the fundamental principle, underlying Liberty
itself, I follow reason and authority. Clearly, where all are equal,
there can be no Slavery. Equality makes Slavery impossible, while it
broadens Liberty into that community of right which is the essence of
Republican Government. A remarkable French writer, La Boëtie, whose
short life was brightened by the friendship of Montaigne, well exhibits
the dependence of Liberty upon Equality. In his little work, “Voluntary
Servitude,” which inspires astonishment in all who read it, while
vindicating and exalting Liberty as derived from Nature, and setting
forth how “this good mother” has given to us all the whole earth for
a home, has lodged us all in the same house, has fashioned us all
according to the same pattern, so that each can see and recognize one
in another, and then, alluding to the gift of voice and speech for our
better mutual acquaintance and fraternity, also to the means by which
Nature ties and binds so strongly the knot of our alliance and society,
also to the manifestation in all things that she did not wish so much
to make us all united as all one, the precocious philosopher declares:
“There can be no doubt that we are all naturally free, _since we are
all companions_, and it cannot fall into any human head that Nature has
put anybody in slavery, _having put us all in company_.”[319] Here is
exhibited that controlling Equality which has prevailed in France.

A recent English publicist and professor exhibits also the
predominance of this principle: I refer to Mr. Maine, who, in his
work on “Ancient Law,” after tracing it to the jurisconsults of the
Antonine era, and asserting that it “is one of a large number of legal
propositions which in progress of time have become political,” attests
the influence of France, which, according to him, is seen in our
own Declaration of Independence, where what he calls “the specially
French assumption,” that all men are born equal, is joined with what
he calls “the assumption more familiar to Englishmen,” that all men
are born free; and he adds, that, “of all the ‘principles of 1789,’ it
is the one which has been least strenuously assailed, which has most
thoroughly leavened modern opinion, and which promises to modify most
deeply the constitution of societies and the politics of states.”[320]
And now I venture to suggest that this guiding principle be recognized
by us in words commended by usage and intrinsic character.

       *       *       *       *       *

Should the Senate not incline to this form, there is still another I
would suggest:--

    “Slavery shall not exist anywhere within the United States or
    the jurisdiction thereof; and the Congress shall have power to
    make all laws necessary and proper to carry this prohibition
    into effect.”

This is simple, and avoids all language open to question. The word
“Slavery” is explicit, and describes precisely what you propose to
blast. There is no doubt with regard to its signification. It cannot
be confounded with “the punishment of crime”; for imprisonment is not
Slavery; nor can any punishment take the form of a wrong which stands
by itself, peculiar, terrible, outrageous. Therefore nothing about
punishment should find place in the rule we now ordain. Beyond this I
would avoid technicality, which is out of place in such a text; and
here I am encouraged by other examples. An early Constitution of France
prohibited Slavery in every form, when it said: “Every man can engage
his time and his services, but he cannot sell himself, nor be sold;
his person is not alienable property.”[321] That of the Greek nation
was equally thorough: “It is not permitted in Greece to sell or to
buy men; every slave, whatever may be his nation or religion, is free
from the time he puts foot on Greek territory.”[322] Nothing can be
simpler than this prohibition in the Bavarian Constitution: “Servitude
is everywhere suppressed”;[323] or than this in the Constitution of
Wurtemberg: “Serfdom is forever abolished”;[324] or than this in the
Constitution of the French Republic in November, 1848: “Slavery cannot
exist upon any French soil.”[325] Nor can anything be more simple and
thorough than these words from Hayti: “Slaves cannot exist on the
territory of the Republic. Slavery there is forever abolished.”[326]
Naturally a Republic of enfranchised slaves made this the first article
of its Constitution, while sense as well as instinct supplied the form.
And, Sir, in all these historic instances you will remark that there is
nothing technical.

If the Senate is determined to follow the Jeffersonian Ordinance, then
I prefer that it should be the Ordinance actually, and not as reported
by the Committee. And I would complete the work by expelling from the
Constitution all those words so often misconstrued, perverted, and
tortured to a false support of Slavery.

But while desirous of seeing the great rule of Freedom we are about
to ordain embodied in a text which shall be like the precious casket
to the more precious treasure, yet I confess that I feel humbled by my
own endeavors. And whatever the judgment of the Senate, I am consoled
by the thought that the most homely text containing such a rule will be
more beautiful far than any word of poet or orator, and will endure to
be read with gratitude, when the lofty dome of this Capitol, with the
statue of liberty which crowns it, has crumbled to earth.



    The managers of the Young Men’s Association of Albany, after
    excluding from their lecture-room all persons not of an
    approved color, invited Mr. Sumner to speak on Lafayette. He
    returned the following answer.

                                        SENATE CHAMBER, April 16, 1864.

  SIR,--You invite me to deliver an address on Lafayette before the
  Young Men’s Association of Albany. In view of a recent incident
  in the history of your Association, I am astonished at the

  I cannot consent to speak of Lafayette, who was not ashamed to
  fight beside a black soldier, to an audience too delicate to sit
  beside a black citizen. I cannot speak of Lafayette, who was a
  friend of universal liberty, under the auspices of a society
  which makes itself the champion of caste and vulgar prejudice.

      I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,


  C. W. DAVIS, Esq., _Cor. Sec., &c., Albany_.



    December 10, 1863, Mr. Sumner gave notice of his intention
    to introduce a bill to repeal all acts for the rendition of
    fugitive slaves.

    February 8, 1864, in pursuance of previous notice, Mr. Sumner
    asked and obtained leave to introduce the bill above mentioned,
    which was read twice by its title, and referred to the Select
    Committee on Slavery and Freedmen.

    February 29th, Mr. Sumner reported from the Committee a bill
    with an accompanying report, of which ten thousand extra copies
    were ordered to be printed.[327] There was a minority report by
    Mr. Buckalew, of Pennsylvania, which was also printed in equal

    The bill was in the following terms:--

        “A Bill to repeal all acts for the rendition of fugitives
        from service or labor.

        “_Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
        in Congress assembled_, That all Acts of Congress, or parts
        of Acts, providing for the rendition of fugitives from
        service or labor, be and the same are hereby repealed.”

    March 7th, Mr. Sumner asked the Senate to take up the bill,
    with a view to make it the special order for a future day.
    This motion was agreed to, and then, on his further motion, it
    was made the special order for March 9th. The disposition to
    delay showed itself the next day, when Mr. Davis, of Kentucky,
    proposed to make another question a special order for the same
    time. Mr. Sumner reminded him that the repeal of the Fugitive
    Slave Act was a special order at that time. Mr. Davis replied,
    “I suppose that can wait a little.” Mr. Sumner: “I do not wish
    to have that wait at all. It is a disgrace to the country
    and the statute-book which we want to get rid of.” When it
    was called up at the appointed time, Mr. Davis expressed a
    desire for postponement, and then, on motion of Mr. Sumner,
    at the suggestion of Mr. Hendricks, of Indiana, it was made
    the special order for March 16th, at one o’clock. Owing to the
    pendency of an Appropriation Bill, as unfinished business, on
    this day, it lost its place.

    March 18th, Mr. Sumner, finding that Mr. Davis was not ready
    to proceed with his remarks, moved to make the bill the
    special order for March 22d, at one o’clock. This motion was
    lost,--Yeas 19, Nays 20. Mr. Sumner then said: “I now deem it
    my duty to give notice that I shall take every proper occasion
    to call the bill up, and press its consideration upon the

    Meanwhile the attention of the Senate was occupied by other
    things, especially by the Constitutional Amendment abolishing

    April 18th, Mr. Sumner appealed to Mr. Fessenden, who had
    charge of the Legislative Appropriation Bill, then under
    consideration, to yield, so that the other bill could be
    considered. At this time he said: “The Senator says it will
    make a great deal of debate. I doubt if it will. I think the
    topic has already been amply discussed in connection with other
    matters. I have several times yielded to amiable pressure,
    reluctantly, always against my own sense of duty, but from
    desire to oblige associates in this body. One Appropriation
    Bill has been interposed, on the motion of the Senator from
    Maine, which has taken several days. Now, I submit, the time
    has come when this bill ought to be considered. Let us give one
    day to it, at least. I say this with reluctance, because I see
    that the Senator has come prepared to go on with his bill, and
    I respect so much the order of business and the preparations
    of Senators to do their part, that I do not interfere, except
    most reluctantly. I am for the Appropriation Bill. The Senator
    knows that I am ever in my seat to sustain all his motions on
    Appropriation Bills; but this bill is committed to my care, and
    I therefore ask him to allow it to be proceeded with to-day.
    There is in the Appropriation Bill an innate vitality; it
    cannot lose by delay; the public interests cannot suffer; but I
    do not doubt that all these, and the good name of the country,
    suffer by every day’s delay in the repeal of the Fugitive Slave
    Act.” Mr. Fessenden said that Mr. Sumner was “at liberty, if
    he chose, to move that that bill be taken up and this be laid
    aside,” and that he should ask the judgment of the Senate.

    April 19th, Mr. Sumner moved that the Senate proceed with the
    bill, and this motion was agreed to,--Yeas 26, Nays 10. The
    Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, considered the bill,
    and it was reported to the Senate without amendment, ordered
    to be engrossed for a third reading, and was read the third
    time, without a division, and without a word of debate. It only
    remained to put the question on its final passage, when Mr.
    Foster, of Connecticut, remarked that he was “not prepared to
    see this bill passed just now”; he had “supposed the Senator
    from Massachusetts was to address the Senate upon it.” Mr.
    Sumner had “not the least desire to address the Senate”; he did
    “not wish to say a word upon it.” Mr. Foster “did not apprehend
    that the bill was to be put on its passage at the present time,
    and expected to say something upon it.” Mr. Pomeroy, of Kansas,
    remarked, “We may as well pass the bill now.” The Chair put
    the question, and the yeas and nays were ordered, when Mr.
    Hendricks spoke against the bill. He said: “It may be that our
    fathers erred in the agreement among themselves that a fugitive
    slave should be returned; it may be that it was a mistake on
    their part; but while their agreement stands, and while my oath
    is upon my conscience to respect that agreement, I cannot vote
    for a bill like this.” The debate was opened.

    Mr. Sherman, of Ohio, had “some doubt about the expediency
    of now repealing the law of 1793.” Mr. Sumner said that the
    Committee “felt that we had better make a clean thing, purify
    the country, and lift it before foreign nations, which could
    be only by washing our hands of Slavery.” Mr. Sherman was “not
    guided exactly by the motives of the honorable Senator from
    Massachusetts”; he would “give to the people of the Southern
    States, the few that are left who have the right to enforce
    the Constitution against us, their constitutional rights fully
    and fairly.” According to him, “the law of 1793 was framed by
    the men who framed the Constitution,” and “has been declared
    to be valid and constitutional by every tribunal that has
    acted upon it.” Mr. Sumner replied, that “it was declared to
    be unconstitutional in certain particulars by the Supreme
    Court of the United States in the Prigg case, and it is among
    the records in the life of Judge Story, who gave the opinion
    in that case, that the fatal objection of a failure to give
    a trial by jury in a case of human freedom was never argued
    before the Court, and that he personally considered it an
    open question.” Mr. Sherman preferred “not to repeal the law
    of 1793, about the constitutionality of which he had little
    doubt.” Mr. Sumner replied, “Then the Senator has little doubt
    that under the Constitution a human being may be given over
    to Slavery without a trial by jury.” Mr. Sherman “would not
    go into the discussion of that question.” Finding that the
    bill had passed the stage when it could be amended, he moved
    to reconsider the vote ordering it to be engrossed and read a
    third time, which was done, when he moved to add these words:--

        “Except the Act approved February 12, 1793, entitled ‘An
        Act respecting fugitives from justice and persons escaping
        from the service of their masters.’”

    Mr. Henderson, of Missouri, proposed to repeal the Act of 1850,
    leaving the Act of 1793 in force. Mr. Sherman thought “we had
    better repeal all the laws on the subject except the Act of
    1793.” Mr. Reverdy Johnson said: “The Constitution as it is
    now, according to my interpretation of it, not only authorized
    the passage of the Act of 1793 and the passage of the Act of
    1850, but made it the duty of Congress to pass some law of that
    description.” Mr. Sumner followed.

MR. PRESIDENT,--I shall not be carried into extended debate, but shall
content myself with replying directly to what has been said on the
other side.

There is, first, the Senator from Ohio [Mr. SHERMAN], who intervened
to arrest the generous purpose of the Senate, as it was about to vote,
by a motion to preserve the old Act of 1793. Strange that now, while
we are in deadly conflict with Slavery, it should be proposed to keep
alive an ancient support of Slavery. For the Senator gravely insists,
and the Senator from Maryland [Mr. REVERDY JOHNSON] insists with him.
But the Senator from Ohio does not seem aware of the character of the
statute he would preserve. Let me remind him that by this enactment,
towards which he is so tender, a fellow-man may be hurried before a
magistrate and doomed to Slavery without trial by jury. Can this be
constitutional? Will the Senator sanction such a thing?

Then the other Senator, who is so familiar with our jurisprudence,
takes exception to the statement that Mr. Justice Story admitted that
the constitutionality of the Act of 1793 had never been affirmed by the
Supreme Court. He thinks that this learned judge never made any such
statement. But he is mistaken. Here is a volume containing the Life and
Letters of Joseph Story, carefully prepared and published by his son. I
turn to the passage.

    “One prevailing opinion, which has created great prejudice
    against this judgment, is, that it denies the right of a person
    claimed as a fugitive from service or labor to a trial by
    jury. This mistake arises from supposing the case to involve
    the general question as to the constitutionality of the Act of
    1793. But in fact no such question was in the case, and the
    argument that the Act of 1793 was unconstitutional, because
    it did not provide for a trial by jury according to the
    requisitions of the sixth [seventh] article in the Amendments
    to the Constitution, having been suggested to my father, on his
    return from Washington, _he replied, that this question was
    not argued by counsel nor considered by the Court, and that he
    should still consider it an open one_.”[328]

Evidently, according to this authentic record by his son, the necessity
of a trial by jury was not argued by counsel nor considered by the
Court, while the judge for himself declared that he should consider it
an “open” question; so that the constitutionality of the Act in this
important respect has not been affirmed. But the Senate is now asked
to affirm it. We are asked to vote that a fellow-man be handed over to
Slavery without trial by jury. To me this proposition is hateful beyond
the power of words to express.

But the Senator, not content with affirming the constitutionality of
the Act of 1793, has plunged into a general discussion on the fugitive
clause of the Constitution. He insists laboriously that it was intended
to cover fugitive slaves. When I reminded him that its authors might
have intended it to cover fugitive slaves, without succeeding in
their attempt, he still insists that it does cover fugitive slaves.
Well, Sir, there I meet him point-blank. I insist, that, whatever the
original intention of the framers of that clause, they did not leave it
so as to cover fugitive slaves. It remains a question of construction,
and the language employed is not applicable to fugitive slaves. It
does not describe them, and cannot by any just tribunal be extended to
embrace them. If the prepossessions of the Senator were more evenly
balanced, I should not doubt his judgment on this point, which in the
light of jurisprudence is so clear.

There is a rule of interpretation which the Senator will not call
in question. Where any language is open to two constructions,
one beneficent and the other odious, _that which is odious must
be rejected_. I do not stop to adduce authorities. The rule is
unquestionable, and the authorities are ample. But keep in mind the
conclusion: that which is odious must be rejected. Now the Senator
has already admitted that the language of the clause is applicable
to apprentices. Very well. That is enough. In its application to
apprentices, redemptioners, and the like, it is exhausted, so that it
cannot be made to cover a slave without offending against the rule
requiring us to adopt the construction least odious. And, Sir, if we go
further and closely scan the clause, we find that the words employed
are all applicable to a relation of _contract_ or _debt_, and not to a
relation founded on _force_. The clause is applicable to a “person,”
and not to a _thing_, and this “person” is to be surrendered on claim
of the person to whom his service or labor may be _due_. But, clearly,
no labor or service can be _due_ from slave to master. The whole
pretension is an absurdity. And if you give to this word its legitimate
application, you must restrict it to a case of _contract_ or _debt_. In
this reply I omit the argument founded on history, and the well-known
opinions of leading minds in the Convention, confining myself to the
text of the Constitution.

But the Senator dwells especially on the words “held to service
or labor in one State _under the laws thereof_,” and triumphantly
declares that slaves were included under this language. Here again he
is mistaken. Apprentices and redemptioners were held under “laws”;
but I need not remind the Senator of the admission repeatedly made
on this floor by Mr. Mason, author of the last Fugitive Slave Act,
that there were no “laws” for Slavery in any Slave State,--at least,
that none could be produced. Besides, as a jurist, the Senator surely
will recollect the ancient truth, that injustice cannot be “law,” but
is always to be regarded as an “abuse” or a “violence,” even though
expressed in the form of “law.” In presence of this principle, which
has the sanction of as great a lawyer as St. Augustine, and in the
face of the positive assertion of Mr. Mason, that no “law” for Slavery
can be found in the Slave States, what becomes of the argument of the
Senator? Sir, the case is clear. No ingenuity of honest effort can
ever make the words cited by the Senator, or any other words in that
much debated clause, sanction Slavery and the hunting of slaves. To
proceed with his argument, the Senator must begin by setting aside
those commanding rules of interpretation which are binding on him as
on myself. If, where words are susceptible of two significations, one
beneficent and the other odious, the former only can be taken, then
must the Senator restrict this clause to that signification which is
not odious. And again, if every word is always to be construed so as
most to favor Liberty, then must the Senator follow implicitly this
rule. But these two rules make it impossible to torture the clause into
any _odious_ or _tyrannical_ signification. They keep it clean and pure
from Slavery.

Sir, one feels humbled by the necessity of this discussion,--that at
this late day he should be called to vindicate the Constitution of his
country against glosses and interpretations in the interest of Slavery.
Pardon me, if, for a moment, leaving the two Senators who seek to foist
Slavery into the Constitution, I turn to the question itself, not so
much for argument as for statement. If I seem to repeat, it is because
there are certain points which I desire to impress upon the Senate.
To my mind nothing is clearer than that, according to unquestionable
rules of interpretation, the clause of the Constitution, whatever the
alleged intent of its authors, cannot be considered applicable to
slaves. Such is Slavery, that, from the nature of the case, it cannot
be sanctioned or legalized except by “positive” words. _It cannot stand
on inference._ This rule, which no reasoning can shake, drove Lord
Mansfield to his great judgment in Somerset’s case. African Slavery had
for two generations prevailed in England. Eminent lawyers and judges
had pronounced it legal. Some of the brightest names in Westminster
Hall had given to it the support of professional opinion and the seal
of judicial decision. At last a person at that time unknown, Granville
Sharp, struck by the injustice of Slavery, devoted himself to consider
the grounds on which its legality was recognized. He studied the laws
of England, and all the various evidences of its Constitution. In the
course of these studies he was gratified to find that there was no
_positive_ establishment of African Slavery in England, and, indeed,
that the words “Slave” and “Slavery” were nowhere to be found in the
British Constitution. He next applied himself to the powerful array
of well-known rules of interpretation, requiring, in case of doubt or
question, that the interpretation should be on the side of Liberty,
and especially that any man was “impious” and “cruel” who did not
favor Liberty. Impiety and cruelty are not light burdens for an honest
conscience. The conclusion was irresistible, that Slavery could not
exist in England.

But the unanswerable argument of Granville Sharp was rejected at first
by the bar, who regarded it as an attempted innovation. The direct
precedents and the weight of authority were the other way, and this
with most lawyers is enough. Harvey said that no person above “forty”
accepted his discovery of the circulation of the blood. And Granville
Sharp found himself in the same predicament. But this good man was not
disheartened. He knew well that there was no statute of limitations
against principles, and, better still, that principles must finally
prevail over precedents. Principles are immortal, and bloom with
perpetual youth: precedents are mortal, and die from age, decrepitude,
and decay. Against principles precedents may for a while prevail; but
the time comes when that which is mortal must yield to that which is
immortal. In this conviction he persevered, until at last lawyers were
convinced, and then the court pronounced in his favor.

The judgment of Lord Mansfield constitutes a landmark of law, to be
remembered proudly, when all his contributions to commercial law and
general jurisprudence are forgotten. It was a contribution to the
British Constitution and to human rights. Like every principle of
Natural Law, it approves itself at once to the reason and conscience.
And this authority I now invoke in the interpretation of the Fugitive

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already said too much. The argument on both sides is presented
in the two reports of the Committee, or rather in the report of the
Committee and the “views of the minority.” Senators, I doubt not, have
already made up their minds, which no discussion can change. Of course,
some may vote against the acts on one ground and some on another. The
arguments are numerous. It is enough, if on any ground they vote to
remove this shame from our statute-book.

I do not enter into details of the constitutional argument, whether
Congress has power under the Constitution to legislate on this subject,
or whether it may confide this great trust to a single magistrate
without trial by jury. These are grave questions, worthy of debate,
into which I am ready to enter, if the occasion requires. But I
forbear. Often, in other times, I have discussed these questions in the
Senate and before the people; but the time for discussion is passed.
And permit me to confess my gladness in this day. I was chosen to
the Senate for the first time immediately after the passage of the
infamous Act of 1850. If at that election I received from the people
of Massachusetts any special charge, it was to use my best endeavors
to secure the repeal of this atrocity. I began the work in the first
session that I was here. God grant that I may end it to-day!

Mr. President, one word more. The suggestion is too often made that
this measure is not practical. Not practical! It is the favorite
phrase. But this depends upon what Senators consider practical.

If it be practical to relieve the people from an unconstitutional
and oppressive statute,--if it be practical to take away a badge of
subjugation imposed by slave-masters during a brutal supremacy,--if it
be practical to secure the good name of the Republic, still suffering
immeasurably from this outrage,--if it be practical, at this moment of
our own severe trial, to substitute justice for oppression, and thus
secure the favor of Providence,--and, finally, if it be practical to
strike at Slavery wherever we can hit it, and to relieve ourselves
of all responsibility for this terrible wrong,--then is this measure
eminently practical. It is as practical as justice, as practical as
humanity, as practical as duty, which cannot be postponed.

But, independently of its intrinsic justice, this measure is
recommended by an expediency of the highest character. I blush to
plead in this way, but the occasion must be my apology. Senators are
not aware how much our country suffers in the judgment of civilized
nations from that accursed statute, which now for more than ten years
has been a byword and hissing among men. Genius in some of its rarest
creations has made it known, literature and art in every form have
lent themselves to expose it, while the unutterable atrocities it has
sanctioned have been carefully gathered together and circulated abroad
as testimony against republican institutions. Since the outbreak of
the Rebellion this statute has been constantly adduced by our enemies
abroad, as showing that we are no better than Jefferson Davis and
his slavemonger crew; for Slavery never shows itself worse than in
the slave-hunter. Only within a few days there has appeared at New
York, published for the fair, a photograph copy of a letter of the
late Alexander von Humboldt, containing the following words: “I have
the warmest attachment to your beautiful and liberal city, New York,
but have earnestly and deeply regretted that Webster, whom I long
respected, more than favored that _shameful_ law which still persecuted
colored men after they had regained by flight their natural, inborn
liberty, of which they had been robbed by Christians.” Humboldt was
our friend, but he could not forbear characterizing this statute as
“shameful.” Be assured, Sir, it is a burden for the national cause
abroad which it ought not to bear. For the sake of our cause, and that
it may have new strength in the swelling sympathies of the civilized
world, it should be repealed at once, without hesitation.

I confess, Sir, another motive. At this moment of severe trial, I wish
my country to put itself right with that Supreme Power which holds
in its hands the destinies of nations. It is as true in the life of
nations as in the life of individuals, that, if you would have equity,
you must do equity; but the great equity which we must do is found in
justice to an oppressed race. It is vain that you complain of disaster
to your arms, of colored soldiers and their brave officers cruelly
treated at Fort Wagner, of colored soldiers and their brave officers
massacred at Fort Pillow, if yourselves continue to set the example
of injustice. The story of the Israelites is revived, and plague
after plague is sent, sounding forever the old commandment, “Let my
people go.” If the plagues sent already are not enough, another and
yet another will visit us. There is one assurance of obedience which
you can give. It is to expunge from your statute-book all support of
Slavery. Be in earnest here, and you will be practical. Then, having
done equity, you may fearlessly ask for equity.

I have already said more than I intended. It was my purpose to leave
the Senate without a word of argument or persuasion. The case to my
mind is too clear, and I thought the time had come for votes. And now,
as I conclude, I forbear to press all constitutional objections, and
present the whole question on a single ground. Slavery has struck at
the national life. Let us strike back wherever we can smite the great
offender, and above all let us purify the statute-book, so that there
shall be nothing there out of which this terrible wrong can derive
support. In the discharge of this duty, all Fugitive Acts should be
repealed. The argument against one is the same against all.

    The amendment of Mr. Sherman was adopted,--Yeas 24, Nays 17.

    Mr. Saulsbury moved an amendment of two sections concerning
    arrests without due process of law,--Yeas 9, Nays 27. Mr.
    Conness, of California, then said: “I do not wish to cast a
    vote for this measure in its present shape. I had intended,
    before the debate closed, if it was debated, to say something
    on the subject. I do not design that now; and as the Senate
    have seen fit to amend the bill, I cannot vote for it. At
    present, therefore, I move that it lie on the table.” Mr.
    Sumner hoped the Senator would “withdraw that motion.” Mr.
    Conness: “For what reason?” Mr. Sumner: “For the reason that we
    get something by this bill.” The motion to lay on the table was
    lost,--Yeas 9, Nays 31. The Democrats, and Mr. Conness, voted
    in the affirmative.

       *       *       *       *       *

    April 20th, the Senate proceeded with the bill, when Mr.
    Foster, of Connecticut, made an elaborate speech, especially
    vindicating the Act of 1793, in the course of which he was
    frequently interrupted by Mr. Sumner in answer to points of the
    argument. He was followed by Mr. Gratz Brown, of Missouri, who
    concluded by saying: “I cannot support this bill as it has been
    amended. I cannot support any bill that recognizes as right and
    proper any Fugitive Slave Act; and I shall therefore refuse
    to give it my sanction, if it comes to a vote upon the final
    passage in its present shape.”

    April 21st, Mr. Van Winkle, of West Virginia, seized the
    opportunity to speak at length on the question of the war.
    Mr. Howard, of Michigan, moved an amendment at the end of the

        “But no person found in any Territory of the United States,
        or in the District of Columbia, shall be deemed to have
        been held to labor or service, or to be a slave; nor shall
        he or she be removed under said Act of 1793; and the fourth
        section of said Act is hereby repealed.”

    Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, moved an executive session.
    Mr. Sumner suggested that it should be an hour later. Mr.
    Brown thought the bill could not be finished that evening.
    Mr. Fessenden did not like to interfere with this bill, but
    he must give notice, that, if the bill were not disposed of
    that afternoon, or by one o’clock the next day, he must then
    move to go on with the Army Appropriation Bill. Mr. Sumner
    hoped “we might go on for at least another hour.” Mr. Conness
    “did not understand the anxiety of his honorable friend from
    Massachusetts in pressing this bill in its present condition.”
    Mr. Pomeroy hoped Mr. Sumner would let the bill go over;
    there were half a dozen amendments to be proposed. Mr. Sumner
    replied: “Very well; if the friends of the measure request
    that it shall not be pressed to-day, I will not throw myself
    in their way.” Accordingly, on the motion of Mr. Conness, it
    was postponed to April 27th, and made the special order at one
    o’clock; but it was then superseded by the unfinished business
    of the day preceding, being the National Currency. With the
    amendment fastened upon his bill, keeping alive the Act of
    1793, Mr. Sumner was not encouraged to press it, and he waited
    the action of the House of Representatives.

       *       *       *       *       *

    June 6th, in the House of Representatives, Mr. Morris, of New
    York, reported from the Committee on the Judiciary a bill in
    the following terms.

        “AN ACT to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act of eighteen
        hundred and fifty, and all Acts and Parts of Acts for the
        Rendition of Fugitive Slaves.

        “_Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
        in Congress assembled_, That sections three and four of an
        Act entitled ‘An Act respecting fugitives from justice and
        persons escaping from the service of their masters,’ passed
        February twelve, seventeen hundred and ninety-three, and an
        Act entitled ‘An Act to amend, and supplementary to, the
        Act entitled “An Act respecting fugitives from justice and
        persons escaping from the service of their masters,” passed
        February twelve, seventeen hundred and ninety-three,’
        passed September, eighteen hundred and fifty, be, and the
        same are, hereby repealed.”

    After some skirmishing, the bill was ordered to be engrossed
    and read a third time. It was then vehemently denounced,
    and a series of motions was made to delay or stave off its
    passage. At last Mr. Morris allowed its postponement to June
    13th, on which day, after further denunciation, it passed the
    House,--Yeas 90, Nays 62.

       *       *       *       *       *

    June 15th, the House bill was laid before the Senate, when Mr.
    Sumner said: “I am instructed by the Committee on Slavery and
    Freedmen to move the immediate passage of that bill. The Senate
    understands it; the House of Representatives has acted on it;
    there is no need of debate; and I ask to have it voted on at
    once.” Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, objected, as he wanted the
    morning hour for morning business. Mr. Powell, of Kentucky,
    moved its reference to the Committee on the Judiciary. Mr.
    Sumner wished it referred to the Committee on Slavery and
    Freedmen. The Senate refused to order the reference to the
    Committee on the Judiciary,--Yeas 14, Nays 21. Then, on motion
    of Mr. Sumner, it was referred to the other Committee. Mr.
    Sumner, anticipating such a reference, had already obtained
    from the Committee authority to report it promptly, without
    amendment, which he did at once, and asked for immediate
    action. Objection being made, the bill was not considered at
    that time.

    June 21st, Mr. Sumner moved that the Senate proceed with the
    House bill, which, after earnest debate, was ordered,--Yeas 25,
    Nays 17. The Senate then took a recess till evening, when other
    business was considered, including the question of opening the
    street cars.

    June 22d, Mr. Sumner moved to proceed with the House bill. Mr.
    Hale, of New Hampshire, opposed the motion, as he desired the
    Senate to take up some naval bills. The motion was lost,--Yeas
    14, Nays 22. In the evening session, Mr. Sumner moved again
    to proceed with the House bill. Mr. Chandler said: “I will
    spend to-night with great pleasure with the Senator from
    Massachusetts on his bill; but to-morrow I shall demand the
    day for the Committee on Commerce.” Mr. Saulsbury moved to
    adjourn, saying, “Let us have one day without the nigger.” The
    motion was lost,--Yeas 8, Nays 28. Mr. Reverdy Johnson wished
    to secure an opportunity for Mr. Davis to speak, and he was
    now absent. Mr. Sumner replied: “The Senator from Kentucky
    has had ample notice. He knew that this bill would be moved
    as soon as I could get the floor.” Mr. Johnson insisted, when
    Mr. Sumner said: “The public business cannot wait. Again and
    again has this measure been postponed in deference to the
    Senator from Kentucky.” The motion to proceed with the bill
    was adopted,--Yeas 26, Nays 12. Mr. Lane, of Indiana, then
    moved to proceed with executive business. Mr. Powell said: “You
    cannot get a vote to-night.” Mr. Sumner: “Let us try.” Mr.
    McDougall: “It is not possible to take a vote to-night.” Mr.
    Howard and Mr. Wade: “We can get it by morning.” Mr. McDougall:
    “It cannot be done.” The motion for an executive session was
    lost,--Yeas 15, Nays 22. Mr. Saulsbury then moved that the
    bill be indefinitely postponed, and the question resulted,
    Yeas 11, Nays 25. Mr. Lane again moved an executive session,
    which motion was lost,--Yeas 16, Nays 22. Mr. Powell then moved
    that the bill be postponed until the first Monday of December
    next. Pending this motion, Mr. Riddle, of Delaware, moved an
    adjournment, which was lost,--Yeas 12, Nays 22. In the course
    of these dilatory motions, Mr. Sherman remarked that he was
    willing to give Mr. Davis an opportunity to be heard, and then
    said: “If Senators propose to resort to these parliamentary
    tactics, these interminable propositions for delay, merely
    to defeat a vote upon a bill which the majority have a right
    to pass, I am perfectly willing now to go into a contest of
    physical endurance.” At last the bill was reported to the
    Senate without amendment, with the understanding that Mr. Davis
    should be heard upon it the next day, when Mr. Powell withdrew
    his motion, and, after the consideration of executive business,
    the Senate adjourned.

    June 23d, Mr. Davis addressed the Senate at length. Mr.
    Saulsbury moved to strike out all after the enacting clause
    and insert the words of the Constitution concerning fugitives
    from service, with the addition: “And Congress shall pass all
    necessary and proper laws for the rendition of all such persons
    who shall so as aforesaid escape.” The motion was lost,--Yeas
    9, Nays 29. Mr. Johnson moved to amend the bill so as to keep
    alive the Act of 1793, saying: “The amendment, as the Senate
    will see, makes this bill like the one that we passed after
    debate.” This motion was also lost,--Yeas 17, Nays 22. So the
    Senate reversed its former decision on that question. The bill
    was then passed by the vote, Yeas 27, Nays 12, and was approved
    by the President June 28th.

    Here was the end of all Fugitive Slave Acts, and another blow
    at Slavery.



    April 26th, the Senate having under consideration the bill
    to provide a National Currency secured by a pledge of United
    States bonds, and to provide for the circulation and redemption
    thereof, the Committee on Finance reported an amendment to
    strike out this clause,--

        “And nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the
        taxation by States of the capital stock of banks organized
        under this Act, the same as the property of other moneyed
        corporations, for State or municipal purposes; but no
        State shall impose any tax upon such associations, or
        their capital, circulation, dividends, or business, at
        a higher rate of taxation than shall be imposed by such
        State upon the same amount of moneyed capital in the hands
        of individual citizens of such State: _Provided_, That no
        State tax shall be imposed on any part of the capital stock
        of such association invested in the bonds of the United
        States, deposited as security for its circulation,”--

    and insert instead thereof another clause, which, after
    providing for payments to the Treasurer of the United States
    “in lieu of all other taxes,” further declared,--

        “_Provided_, That nothing in this Act shall be construed to
        prevent the market value of the shares in any of the said
        associations, held by any person or body corporate, from
        being included in the valuation of the personal property of
        such person or corporation in the assessment of all taxes
        imposed by or under State authority for State or other
        purposes, but not at a greater rate than is assessed upon
        other moneyed capital in the hands of individual citizens
        of such State; and all the remedies provided by State
        laws for the collection of such taxes shall be applicable
        thereto: _Provided, also_, That nothing in this Act shall
        exempt the real estate of associations from either State,
        county, or municipal taxes, to the same extent, according
        to its value, as other real estate is taxed.”

    Mr. Sumner saw in the report of the Committee a deference to
    the State banks which he feared might imperil the national
    system, and he made an effort to secure for the national banks
    the largest immunity, believing it important to the national

    Early in the debate he spoke,[329] and Mr. Fessenden replied to

    April 27th, Mr. Sumner spoke again.

MR. PRESIDENT,--This question seems to me very simple. The country
is now engaged in mortal struggle to establish itself as a nation.
It has gone forth to meet Rebellion organized in the name of State
Rights. In preparing ourselves for this unparalleled contest, we are
compelled to look about in every direction to increase our army, to
enlarge our navy, and to multiply our financial resources; but at every
stage we are encountered by objections in the name of State Rights. No
single proposition is brought forward, having for object the salvation
of the Republic by infusing new energy and new vitality, which is
not encountered in the name of State Rights. And now, Sir, while
considering how to secure financial stability, we are doomed again to
encounter the oft-repeated objection. The Rebellion began in State
Rights, and all opposition to the measures conceived to crush it is in
the name of State Rights. It is hard that we should be obliged to meet
State Rights not only on the battle-field, but also in this Chamber.

The Senator from Vermont [Mr. COLLAMER] complained that it
was proposed to sequester so large an amount of property from
State taxation. The sum-total of property thus sequestered is
$300,000,000[330]; but has the Senator considered how much is
sequestered by other agencies to save this Republic? There is the army
with all the material of war, there is the navy with all the material
of the navy,--all sequestered. Who complains that this vast material,
now counted far beyond $300,000,000, is sequestered from State
taxation? Does any Senator, in the name of State Rights, claim that
the enlarged navy of the Republic, as it floats into a Northern port,
shall be brought within the sphere of local taxation, whether State
or municipal? Does any Senator say that all the vast material of war,
ammunition, cannon, and the like, deposited, for the time being, in any
particular locality, shall fall within the sphere of State or municipal
taxation? Or does any Senator insist that the public securities shall
be left exposed to State taxation? No Senator makes any such complaint.
But the complaint is reserved for the present occasion, when it is
proposed to create a new agency for the currency of the country.

I know not how the exemption can be sanctioned in one case and not in
the other. The reason applicable to one is applicable to the other.
It is said that the army and navy are for war, and naturally share
exemptions incident to war and its preparations. But it would be
difficult to say, that, in this crisis, what you do for the finances
is not essentially a war measure, entitled to all the consideration
accorded to such measures in a moment of war. What are your army and
navy without a Treasury? Milton, in one of his sublimest sonnets, has
aptly pictured that statesmanship which was able

          “to advise how War may, best upheld,
    Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
    In all her equipage.”[331]

In these few words the very likeness is given. All who hear them will
confess their truth.

Now, Sir, no Senator complains because we protect the nerve of iron;
but the Senator from Vermont registers complaints because it is
proposed to protect the much more delicate nerve of gold. What is worth
doing is worth well doing; and if it be worth while to organize the
finances of this Republic by the proposed banking system, it is worth
while to do it well; and can you do it well, if, at the very moment of
its organization, you leave its most sensitive part exposed to hostile

The precedent for this exemption is complete. Already you exempt the
public stocks and securities from local taxation. Pray, Sir, tell me
what policy justifies such exemption which is not equally strong for
the exemption of shares in the national banks. Clearly, it was to
commend your national stocks that you established the exemption; and
for the same reason I ask you now to establish this other exemption.
It is strange that the vast sequestration of the national stocks
from State taxation should have been made with so little doubt, when
Senators question so pertinaciously this smaller sequestration. If it
was proper in one case, it is in the other. If it was necessary in one
case, it is in the other.

If you allow the State to interfere with the proposed system by
taxation in any way, may they not embarrass it? Where shall they stop?
Where will you run a line? Undoubtedly, according to the Supreme Court,
they cannot tax the bank directly. This would be unconstitutional. But
it is said that they may tax the shares. Now I raise no constitutional
question. It may be that a tax on shares is constitutional. But I shall
not consider it on this ground. I am now arguing against the policy of
such tax. It is a question of expediency which I raise, for the sake of
the system we are about to establish. But here the rule seems clear.
Every consideration urged against taxing the bank directly may be urged
against taxing the shares. If it be bad policy in one case, it must be
in the other.

I suppose there is no judgment of our Supreme Court which has been
more admired than that in the case of _M’Culloch_ v. _The State of
Maryland_.[332] It was pronounced by Chief Justice Marshall, and is as
good a specimen of that “pure reason” which belonged to this magistrate
as any that can be named. In the course of this elaborate judgment
all the topics were considered which enter so peculiarly into this
debate. It was there insisted that the tax was unconstitutional. But
the words of the Chief Justice seem intended for the present occasion.
His object, from beginning to end, was to keep the bank safe from the
hostile acts of the States. It was a great effort to uphold a national
institution against State Rights. It was, permit me to say, an answer
in advance to the Senator from Vermont. I do not like to trouble the
Senate, but there are passages so pertinent that I will read them.
Here, for instance, the Chief Justice considers the ground of exemption.

    Mr. Sumner then proceeded at some length to analyze the
    judgment of Chief Justice Marshall, reading important parts of
    it; and he then said:--

Now, Sir, every consideration, every argument, which goes to sustain
this great judgment, may be employed against the proposed concession
to the States of the power to tax this national institution in any
particular, whether directly or indirectly. The reason of the judgment
is as strong against an indirect tax as against a direct tax.

    After showing the character of the new system as an instrument
    of national credit, as the Navy-Yard and the Mint are
    instruments for the public service, he proceeded:--

The very measure under consideration seeks to create a new currency
by a system of national banks which shall supersede the existing State
banks as agents of currency. Of course the new system must begin in
rivalry with the State banks, which in many cases will be hostile. This
is no inconsiderable impediment. But this impediment will be increased,
if the national banks be exposed to local taxation. It is an untried
experiment upon which you are entering. On every account it should be
made under the most favorable circumstances,--precisely as when we
put stock in the market. The national banks should be commended in
every possible way. But, instead, it is proposed to fasten upon them
a liability, which, if it do not cause people to avoid them, will at
least keep them in rivalry with the State banks, so that the new system
cannot become truly effective. It seems to me that there is but one
practical course. Naturally, all who are against the proposed system
will favor any limitation or burden to impair its efficiency. But all
who are for the system, and wish to see it doing all the good it can,
will take care that it is not compelled to carry weight. The whole case
may be briefly summed up. Would you place the national credit on a sure
foundation? Are you for the national banks as a proper agency to this
end? If these two objects interest you, then, I say, do not allow them
to be sacrificed in subserviency to State Rights.

    Mr. Fessenden followed in an earnest speech, vindicating the
    report of the Committee, to which Mr. Sumner replied.[333] The
    debate continued for several days.

       *       *       *       *       *

    May 5th, as a substitute for the amendment of the Committee,
    Mr. Sumner moved the following:--

        “In lieu of all other taxes on the capital, circulation,
        deposits, shares, and other property, every association
        shall pay to the Treasurer of the United States, in the
        months of January and July, a duty of one per cent each
        half-year from and after the first day of January, 1864,
        upon the average amount of its notes in circulation, and a
        duty of one half of one per cent each half-year upon the
        average amount of its deposits, and a duty of one half of
        one per cent each half-year, as aforesaid, on the average
        amount of its capital stock beyond the amount invested
        in United States bonds; and in case of default in the
        payment thereof by any association, the duties aforesaid
        may be collected in the manner provided for the collection
        of United States duties of other corporations, or the
        Treasurer may reserve the amount of such duties out of the
        interest as it may become due on the bonds deposited with
        him by such defaulting association. And each association
        shall, within ten days from the first days of January
        and July of each year, make a return, under the oath of
        its president or cashier, to the Treasurer of the United
        States, in such form as he may prescribe, of the average
        amount of its notes in circulation, and of the average
        amount of its deposits, and of the average amount of its
        capital stock beyond the amount invested in United States
        bonds, for the six months next preceding the first days
        of January and July, as aforesaid; and in default of such
        return, and for each default thereof, each defaulting
        association shall forfeit and pay to the United States the
        sum of two hundred dollars, to be collected either out of
        the interest as it may become due to such association on
        the bonds deposited with the Treasurer, or, at his option,
        in the manner in which penalties are to be collected of
        other corporations under the laws of the United States;
        and in case of such default, the amount of the duties
        to be paid by such association shall be assessed upon
        the amount of notes delivered to such association by the
        Comptroller of the Currency, and upon the highest amount of
        its deposits and capital stock, to be ascertained in such
        other manner as the Treasurer may deem best. _Provided_,
        That nothing in this Act shall exempt the real estate of
        associations from either State, county, or municipal taxes,
        to the same extent, according to its value, as other real
        estate is taxed: _Provided, also_, That all taxes imposed
        by this or any future Act on banking associations organized
        under national legislation shall be applied exclusively to
        the payment of the interest and principal of the national
        debt of the United States.”

    It will be perceived that the special object of this amendment
    was to keep the taxation of the national banks in the hands
    of the National Government. In this aim Mr. Sumner was
    sustained by Mr. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, who,
    in a communication to the Chairman of the Senate Committee of
    Finance, May 9, 1864, said:--

        “Under ordinary circumstances there might be no insuperable
        objection to leaving the property organized under
        the national banking law subject, as are almost all
        descriptions of property, to general taxation, State,
        national, and municipal; but, in the present condition of
        the country, I respectfully submit that this particular
        description of property should be placed in the same
        category with imported goods before entry into general
        consumption, and be subjected to exclusive national

    Mr. Sumner spoke in the same vein.

MR. PRESIDENT,--At last, in this discussion, it is clear that we have
come to the place where the road branches in two opposite directions:
one toward the support of the whole country, and of that improved
currency essential not only to the general welfare, but also to the
common defence; and the other toward State rights, State taxation, and
State banks. Which road will you take, Sir?

Or, stating the case in a different way, it is a question between the
national credit, involving the interests of all, on the one side, and
certain local pretensions on the other side. It is a question between
the whole and a part,--between the life of the Republic and a small
percentage of taxation which Senators claim for their States. The enemy
is at our gates,--gold is at 180,--and yet Senators hesitate.

All are watching, at this moment, the movement of our forces under
General Grant, and are longing for victory. Nothing that the country
can do to make him strong is left undone. Men, money, supplies,
everything is lavished; and only the day before yesterday the Senate
voted another $25,000,000.

There is another field, where the battle is bloodless, but scarcely
less important: I mean the field of finance. If our pecuniary resources
fail, it is doubtful if the army and navy must not fail also. But
victory on this field would give triumphant strength and vigor to all
the operations of Government. There is no argument for the army and
navy--ay, Sir, for the present support of the Lieutenant-General of the
United States, in the field at the head of our military forces--which
at this moment is not equally applicable to the support of the
Secretary of the Treasury at the head of our _financial forces_.

How different the treatment of these two officers! Everything is given
to the one, almost without debate; but little is given to the other
without higgling at every stage.

There are movements pending in the field of national finance hardly
less important than those in the field of war. A defeat in finance
would be little less disastrous than a defeat in war.

Under these circumstances, and at this critical moment, a measure is
brought forward whose real character is discerned in its title: “_To
provide a national currency_ secured by a pledge of United States
bonds, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof.” The
primary object of this bill is not, therefore, to establish national
banks, but to secure the national currency. For the sake of the
currency a system of national banks is to be established; they are the
means to the end. But the end sought is an improved currency. Sir, this
must not be forgotten. If it were a mere question of a national bank,
if it were a question between two rival systems, Senators might take
sides. But who will hesitate to give all that is needed, even all that
is asked by the proper authorities, for an improved currency? You may
seem to give much, when you abandon sources of State taxation; but you
can give nothing that will not be returned tenfold, a hundred-fold,
when the currency at last becomes fixed and uniform.

Glance only for a moment at the incalculable advantages of a sound
currency. Gold will assume its normal place, business will be sure,
values will be fixed, fluctuations will cease, inflated prices will
pass away. There is not a mart of commerce, there is not a village in
the whole country, that will not feel the change. But this great boon
cannot be assured without corresponding effort. Like victory in the
field of battle, it must be fought for and paid for.

And now, when victory seems within reach, when an improved currency is
already begun, Senators hesitate in conceding those facilities without
which victory is doubtful. They set up claims for their States, and
insist upon certain rights of taxation. If this were a season of peace,
I could appreciate the pretension; but when I consider the peril of
the country, filling us all with such anxiety,--when I consider that
its very being is assailed, and that it is to be defended on the field
of finance just as much as on the field of battle,--I feel that every
endeavor to hamper the pending measure differs little in character
from an effort to hamper our soldiers in the field. We spare nothing
essential to our armies; we should spare nothing essential to our
currency. Men and money both are necessary; both must be cherished and
protected with equal patriotic care.


Sir, I am unwilling to be misunderstood. I have no feeling except of
kindness for the State banks, especially when they keep within the
proper sphere of banks, and do not undertake to supply a currency for
the country. But at this moment, when we are seeking to create a new
currency, which shall be the foundation of national credit, and of
national character too, I confess that I have little sympathy with
anything that puts itself in the way. The State banks have performed
their task as agents of currency, and the time has come for them to
abdicate,--or, if they do not abdicate, at least to conform to the new

I do not stop to inquire if any paper issued by State banks as currency
can be constitutional,--to consider if the States, which cannot coin
money, can yet put paper in circulation as money. I content myself with
insisting, that, whatever the constitutional merits of this question,
it is no longer expedient that States should be invested with the
power. We must have another system. The best interests of the whole
country require it, especially at this time of national peril.

It is clear that the State banks are not competent to meet the crisis.
They cannot do the business required. Besides, they are in the way.
Putting their notes in circulation almost at will, the currency is
inflated beyond control. Depreciation naturally ensues. Bankruptcy may

When I say that the State banks are in the way, I do not use too
strong language. Authentic tables show the extent to which during the
last year the currency has been affected by their interference. I hold
in my hand a statement from the Bank Reports for 1862, page 208, and
for 1863, page 210. At the risk of wearying the Senate, I will read it.

_Statement of the Circulation of the Banks in certain States, on or
about 1st January, 1862 and 1863._

                                            1862.           1863.

    Maine                                $4,047,780      $6,488,478
    New Hampshire                         2,994,408       4,192,034
    Vermont                               2,522,687       5,621,851
    Massachusetts                        19,517,306      28,957,630
    Rhode Island                          3,306,530       6,413,404
    Connecticut                           6,918,018      13,842,758
                                         ----------      ----------
                                        $39,306,729      65,516,155
        Total increase in New England States            $26,209,426

Being over sixty-six and two thirds per cent.

Similarly in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, we find the
circulation, on or about 1st January:--

                                            1862.           1863.

    New York                            $30,553,020     $39,182,819
    Pennsylvania                         16,384,643      27,689,504
    New Jersey                            3,927,535       8,172,398
                                         ----------      ----------
                                        $50,865,198     $75,044,721
        Total increase in New York, Pennsylvania, and
          New Jersey,                                   $24,179,523

Being over forty-seven per cent.

_Aggregate Increase in the Principal Eastern States._

                                            1862.           1863.

    New England                         $39,306,729     $65,516,155
    New York, Pennsylvania, and New
      Jersey                             50,865,198      75,044,721
                                         ----------      ----------
                                        $90,171,927    $140,560,876
        Aggregate increase in Eastern States            $50,388,949

Being over fifty-five and three fourths per cent.

These tables speak. They show the range within which the State banks
undertake to operate, and their consequent interference with the
national system. If it be said that in certain parts of the country,
as in New England and New York, the State banks have performed good
service, I reply, that, even admitting all that is claimed, the service
is local and incomplete. It does not embrace the West.

The present endeavor is to provide a remedy for this trouble by a
comprehensive national system, discharging the function performed
by the State banks, and embracing the whole country. It is called
national because it belongs to the nation, and not to any particular
State, and because its origin, aim, and inspiration are all national.
It is conceived in no hostility or unkindness to the State banks,
but in a patriotic purpose to do what can be done to secure what all
desire,--a national currency. The State banks will be welcome to a
place in the system, like State troops coming forward for the defence
of the Republic; but they cannot be tolerated, if they stand aloof, or
refuse to take the post assigned them. At a moment of peril, when the
Government is bending all its energies to save the national currency, a
mutiny among State banks will be hardly less disastrous than a mutiny
among State troops. Every murmur or mutter of such mutiny ought to be
repressed at once. All should be summoned to perfect and harmonious
coöperation in that cause which embraces the whole country, in every
walk of life, whether military or civil.

I know not how others are impressed, but to my mind it is difficult
to imagine anything, short of those everlasting principles of human
freedom involved in this war, which should at this moment be more
carefully watched than the currency of the country. Let this be safe,
and everything will be safe,--army, navy, and the whole national
cause. Such a currency will constitute an epoch in the history of
the country,--ay, Sir, in the history of the world. There have been
ministers in other countries and other times whose names are immortal
from association with commercial reforms. Colbert was the founder of
the commercial system of France; Peel was the founder of free trade
in England. But the present Secretary of the Treasury, when the new
system is at last triumphant over all obstacles, including the mutiny
of State banks and the lukewarmness of Senators, may boast that he
has given a currency to his country. Next after the great gift of
human freedom there is nothing greater he could give,--nothing that
comes home so completely to the business and bosoms of the people,
rich and poor, throughout our wide-spread empire. An improved currency
is like sunshine, penetrating every corner of the land, under which
commerce, business, comfort, civilization, life itself, will put forth
blossom and fruit. Nobody in the community too high, nobody too low,
not to feel the new-found boon filling every household and travelling
on every highway. But it is seen now in another aspect. An improved
currency is like a new levy of national troops, a new navy afloat, a
new contribution of supplies. It is the herald and assurance of untold
success. In itself it is a present daily victory,--fruitful parent of
victory everywhere.

Such is the object proposed,--important at any time, inconceivably
important at this moment. And the question recurs, Are you for a
national, life-giving currency, or are you for the State banks? You
cannot be for both; one must yield to the other. If you are for the
former, you must abandon the State banks, or compel them to enlist in
the national cause.

Massachusetts--which has a larger bank capital in proportion to her
population than any other State, and, moreover, looks to taxation of
this capital as a chief source of income--has already, by her patriotic
Governor, volunteered support to the national banks.

    Here Mr. Sumner quoted from the Address of Governor Andrew to
    the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 9, 1863.

Such is the testimony of Massachusetts, by the lips of her brave Chief
Magistrate. Seeing the object before us, he raises no question of State
rights, presents no claim of State taxation, makes no plea for State

Sir, it is vain to think that you can keep both systems at the same
time. One must yield to the other. But if you sincerely desire the
national system to prevail, then must you so endow and protect it that
it will be commended to the public, and that investments will naturally
seek it. Therefore every privilege you confer, every immunity you give,
every exemption you establish in its favor, must naturally contribute
to its strength, and make it more effective for its transcendent

This is the day of sacrifice. Families are offering sons and brothers.
States are giving their citizens, and every citizen is contributing
according to his means to the safety of the Republic. But there is one
other sacrifice now required: it is the sacrifice of the State banks as
agents of currency; and this sacrifice requires that the local taxation
should be suspended with regard to the national currency, and that all
the proceeds of such local taxation should be passed to the credit of
the whole country. You must do for the national currency precisely what
you do for the national securities. Here are the words of the statute:--

    “And all stock, bonds, and other securities of the United
    States, held by individuals, corporations, or associations,
    within the United States, _shall be exempt from taxation by or
    under State authority_.”[334]

The reason which sustains the exemption in this case is equally
applicable in the other.

But we have other exemptions from local taxation.

There are the imports of the country, which no State or municipality
can tax.

There are the army and navy, and all the material of war,--ships, arms,
munitions, commissariat supplies,--all exempt from local taxation.

There are the public lands of the United States, which no local
authority can touch.

There is the Mint, which is untaxed.

There are the public buildings in Washington, the National Capitol, the
Executive Mansion, the offices of the heads of Departments, covering
large spaces of ground, all secured from local taxation.

But no reason can be assigned for exemption in these cases that does
not prevail with regard to the currency. Nay, at this juncture, when
our object is, above all things, to secure a national currency, the
reason for exemption is of special and unanswerable force.

We have more than once been warned not to slay the goose that lays
the golden egg,--meaning by this goose the State banks. But all who
use this illustration forget that there is another bird, which lays
such eggs as no State banks can hatch,--eggs not merely of gold, but
of victory. It is the _national credit_, which Senators seem willing
to abandon, if not to slay; and it is the national credit which I now
insist shall be preserved at all hazards.

Mr. President, I was not a sharer in the counsels that originated this
measure. Had I been consulted, I know not that I should have originally
advised the experiment in its actual form. Clearly, something was
necessary for the sake of the currency, and for the sake of the
country; and after proper consideration the present system was adopted.
Operations under it have already commenced; $60,000,000 of capital
have been organized according to its requirements. It is too late to
retreat. It only remains that you should go forward, not sluggishly,
heavily, reluctantly, but bravely, confidently. The financial
enterprise already begun must be finished and protected. Here I cannot
hesitate. If the system is to be maintained, if it is not to be utterly
abandoned, it must be placed under the most favorable auspices, so at
least that it may not fail from any want of care on our part. It should
be made strong in itself, and then it should be surrounded with an
atmosphere congenial and friendly. For this reason I shall vote to keep
it free from all State hostility and even State rivalry, that it may
become in reality, as in name, wholly national.

Sir, I am told that it will be unpopular to make this sacrifice,
and ancient ghosts are paraded through this Chamber to frighten us
from duty. Naturally, all who are against the proposed system will be
against the seeming sacrifice. But the people are too intelligent not
to see what is demanded by the best interests of the national currency;
and unless I greatly err, they will insist that what we do shall be
so done as to make our work most effective and most triumphant, to
the end that victory may be certain. It is on no narrow ground that
I make my appeal. I speak for a national currency which shall be to
the whole country like the horn of abundance; and I plead for it now,
as essential not only to the general welfare, but also to the common

    Mr. Fessenden replied to Mr. Sumner with severity. On the other
    hand, Mr. Chandler, of Michigan, recognized as a business man,
    said: “The country owes the Senator from Massachusetts a debt
    of gratitude for his patriotism and statesmanship. He has
    risen above small matters, above local, petty interests, and
    has come up to the standard of the broadest statesmanship, in
    the argument he has just delivered, which is one of the ablest
    financial arguments ever delivered on this floor.”

    Mr. Sumner’s amendment was lost,--Yeas 11, Nays 24. The
    amendment of the Committee was then agreed to,--Yeas 29, Nays 8.


OREGON, APRIL 29, 1864.

    The Senate having under consideration a bill to establish Assay
    Offices at Carson City, in the Territory of Nevada, and Dalles
    City, in the State of Oregon, Mr. Nesmith, of Oregon, moved to
    strike out the section establishing an Assay Office at Dalles
    City, and insert several sections establishing a Branch Mint
    there, instead. This was contrary to the recommendation of the
    Finance Committee, and also to communications from Mr. Pollock,
    the Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, and Mr. Chase,
    Secretary of the Treasury, sustained by Mr. Fessenden in the

       *       *       *       *       *

    April 29th, Mr. Sumner spoke.

MR. PRESIDENT,--When this subject was under consideration before, I
voted with the Committee, partly because it is my habit to vote with
committees on matters within their special consideration, and partly
because at the time I was under the impression that their report was
justified by correct principles. Subsequent reflection has induced me
to hesitate in this conclusion.

Much dependence has been placed upon the report of the Director of
the mint at Philadelphia. Now, Sir, if he had contented himself with
giving an opinion against establishing a mint in Oregon, without
assigning reasons, I might have respected his opinion; but when he puts
forward as his first great objection that the multiplication of mints
will tend to “national disintegration,” I confess that I join with
the Senator from Oregon [Mr. NESMITH] in distrusting his conclusion.
What confidence can anybody have in anything founded on such premises,
which experience, if not reason, shows to be false? Why, Sir, the
author of this opinion forgets that in the country most centralized in
the world, where all the agencies of Government converge in a single
capital,--I mean France,--there have been for a long time, even within
its comparatively contracted borders, more than half a dozen different
mints. Besides a magnificent central mint at Paris, there are, or
were very recently, auxiliary mints at Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux,
Lille, Rouen, and Strasbourg. I never heard that this multiplicity
tended toward “national disintegration.” France still continues one
and indivisible; and I doubt if there would be any difference in this
respect, even if there were a mint in every one of her eighty-six
Departments. Really, the Director of the Philadelphia mint ought to
have borne in mind the famous instructions of Lord Mansfield to the
colonial magistrate, and contented himself with an opinion without
assigning reasons.

There is a different consideration, to which I confess that I am not
insensible. It is the importance of a correct and finished coinage,
which it seems natural to suppose best promoted by a single mint. On
this point I am disposed to agree with the Director. But our Government
has not acted on this principle.

If circumstances favored the consolidation of the national coinage
at a single mint, I can conceive that there would be advantages of
an unquestionable character. Indeed, if we repair to France, where
the mints have been in times past so numerous, we find that these
advantages have not been denied. I suppose that the most authoritative
testimony on this subject, whether we look at it in the light of theory
or of practice, is found in that country; and if we seek special
authorities, there is nothing so instructive or ample as the report
of Dumas and De Colmont, made in 1839, under a commission from the
French Minister of Finance. This document, with its minute disclosures
on the operations of mints, was for some time kept secret in France.
I have understood that only _twelve copies_ were printed for the use
of the Commission, who were placed under a solemn obligation not to
divulge it. But I believe it found its way to publicity at the time of
the Parliamentary inquiry into the Mint in 1849, which resulted in a
valuable blue-book.

The testimony of Dumas is for a single mint. He dwells especially
on two considerations,--economy, and the perfection of the coinage;
and these he places above local interests demanding multiplicity of
mints. The figures by which he illustrates the superior economy are
very striking. _These assume that the metal is already delivered at
the mint_,--a point not to be forgotten on the present occasion.
Beyond his own opinion on the question of perfection, Dumas quotes the
testimony of Basterrèche, Regent of the Bank of France, who, after
an examination of the subject as long ago as 1800, very positively
declared that “the perfection of labor which ought to distinguish a
great nation imperiously required a single mint, placed under the
immediate superintendence of the Government.” And he also quotes the
testimony of Humann, Minister of Finance, who, in presenting his
budget in 1835, declared that the Paris mint was adequate to do all
the coinage required in France,--that the concentration of labor
there would promote improvement in the processes of production,--that
in this way the Government would be relieved from the expense of
different establishments,--that all the money from the same mint would
be identical in character, and in proportion as it acquired perfection
would be less exposed to counterfeiting,--and, in fine, that the
superintendence of the Government would be a guaranty of security,
which does not exist where the work is distributed in a large number
of establishments. Such was the testimony of the minister, adopted by
the illustrious authority in science, Dumas. Perhaps the case could not
be stated stronger. Yet it did not prevail in 1800, when it was first
given,--nor in 1835, nor in 1839,--even in France, where the tendency
to concentration is so active, where the facilities for it are so
great, and the disposition to take counsel of science is so confirmed.
And surely there must be a reason why it did not prevail.

Dumas says, in rather contemptuous phrase, that “on one side is a petty
local interest, in a great degree imaginary.”[335] But if this “petty
local interest” were of sufficient importance to prevail for so long
a time in France, against such influences, it must be because there
was something of intrinsic strength in its character. I allude thus
minutely to this testimony, because I would not keep anything out of
the discussion calculated to shed light, and because it seems to me
that the long-continued practice of France, in spite of such testimony,
must not be disregarded in our endeavors to arrive at a true policy.

Thus far our Government has followed the teachings from the practice
of France, rather than from its science on this subject. It renounced,
some time ago, the policy of a single mint, acting, it may be supposed,
under other considerations of a controlling character. The statute of
March 3, 1835, entitled “An Act to establish branches of the Mint of
the United States,”[336] provides for mints at New Orleans, Charlotte,
in North Carolina, and Dahlonega, in Georgia,--the two latter for
coinage of gold only. Since then there has been provision for mints at
San Francisco, Denver, and Carson City.

I have not before me the most recent statement of the production at
these different mints; but this is not necessary for illustration. If
we take the year 1851, we find that the number of pieces, gold, silver,
and copper, produced that year, was as follows:--

    Philadelphia   24,985,736
    New Orleans     3,527,000
    Charlotte         105,366
    Dahlonega          83,856

So that mints were kept up at the two latter places merely to
manufacture a very small amount of coin, and the reason assigned was,
that gold was produced in the neighborhood.

Looking at the cost of production at these different places, we find
that at Philadelphia it was only forty-two hundredths per cent,--at
New Orleans, one and eight hundredths per cent,--at Charlotte, three
and fifty-five hundredths per cent,--at Dahlonega, three and thirteen
hundredths per cent. But, great as was the economy at Philadelphia,
compared with that at the other mints, we find that at the Paris mint
the same production costs one half less.

If we look further at the mints of Charlotte and Dahlonega, it is easy
to see how every consideration of economy was against them. With a
single Munich press in the mint at Charlotte, the whole annual coinage
there would have been accomplished in thirty-five hours; and with a
similar press at Dahlonega, the whole annual coinage there would have
been accomplished in less than twenty-eight hours! Experience shows
that one Munich press will coin in a day of ten hours, allowing one
sixth of the time for stoppages and accidents, thirty thousand pieces.
Of course the coinage at these two places must have been at an expense
much beyond that of Philadelphia. It would be more economical for the
Treasury to pay the cost of transporting the gold from these places
to Philadelphia. And doubtless this would be done, if the question of
economy were alone involved.

I refer to these instances as illustrations of the policy already
adopted. I need not say that they do not commend themselves to my
judgment, especially when it is considered that in all probability
the coinage at these mints, besides being expensive, was also of an
inferior quality.

But the vast products of gold in distant California presented the
question in a new form. Unexpectedly, the early prodigies of Mexico
and Peru were renewed. Private persons were suddenly enriched. Gold
was turned up like clods of earth, or washed from sands deposited by
mountain torrents. Where gold so abounded, the currency of the country
was naturally in this metal, which thus performed its double function
of merchandise and money. Should all this treasure be sent far away
to Philadelphia for coinage? The answer of reason, convenience, and
commerce was clearly against such enforced transportation. A mint
became a necessity. Even assuming that the coinage could be executed
with more economy and perfection at Philadelphia, it is evident that
the local interests of California were too important to be neglected.
The mint was established, and during the last year gold has been
coined there to the amount of $17,510,960, while the smaller amount of
$3,340,931 was the sum-total of gold coinage during the same time at

It is now proposed to create another mint in Oregon, and the
reasons for it are similar to those which prevailed in the case
of California. The region is fruitful in gold, if not to the same
extent as California, yet so much so as to require similar facilities
for coinage. It seems that the amount received at three private
assay-offices in the city of Portland, from January 15th to October
20th of the last year, reached $2,486,496. Compare this sum with the
paltry yield at Charlotte or Dahlonega, where mints were established
and maintained down to the Rebellion. The mines of Peru have been
proverbial for richness; but the sum-total of their product in 1858 was
only $6,000,000. That of Chile was $5,000,000; and that of Bolivia was
only $2,000,000,--being less than the product of Oregon for nine months.

Here, again, the considerations of science, so strong in favor of a
single mint, seem to lose their applicability, or rather they fail in
presence of other considerations not to be neglected. Sir, we cannot
forget in legislation that it is no narrow territory that comes within
our jurisdiction, but that it is a vast region, washed by two great
oceans and separated by intervening mountains. A rule which may be
proper in a country like France becomes inapplicable to a country so
vast in space. If all our States were huddled together on a single
seaboard, perhaps a single mint might suffice. In such a case economy
and perfection of coinage might be exclusively consulted. But the
interests of business on the Pacific coast must not be sacrificed even
to these considerations. Spain still has mints at Madrid and Seville,
although at the latter place the coinage is chiefly confined to copper;
but in former days, while Mexico was a Spanish province, there was a
Spanish mint there,--for the same reason, I suppose, that a mint is now
proposed in Oregon.

The consideration from distance alone cannot be disregarded. Oregon
is more than five thousand miles from Philadelphia, and seven hundred
miles from San Francisco. It is impossible to legislate for such
immense spaces as you would legislate for a European kingdom, where
every part is within easy distance of the metropolis.

In England a single mint transacts the business of that commercial
country. But I need not remind you that all its immense commerce is
conducted within a small territory. In Holland, also, there is only a
single mint,--although during the days of the Republic there was a mint
in each province. Afterwards these were abandoned, and one mint for the
whole kingdom was established at Utrecht. But here again I remind you
of the narrow space of territory served by this mint.

The whole question is obscured by considering gold, when coined, as
exclusively currency, whereas it is also merchandise. In this latter
character it comes under the laws governing commerce in other articles.
If we go back to Aristotle, we find a definition difficult to improve
in our day. “It is agreed,” says this master of thought, “to give and
receive in exchange _a substance which, useful in itself_, is easily
managed in the usage of life: as, for example, iron, silver, or such
other substance as shall have a determined dimension and weight, and
which, in order to avoid the embarrassment of continual weighing,
_shall be marked by a particular stamp as the sign of its value_.”[337]
In quoting these words, Michel Chevalier, the political economist
and new-made Senator of France, who has given much attention to this
subject, rightly says that the whole question is admirably put and at
the same time determined.[338] But the same idea has been presented
by Adam Smith in his remarkable work on the Wealth of Nations. “The
qualities,” he says, “of utility, beauty, and scarcity are the original
foundation of the high price of those metals, or of the great quantity
of other goods for which they can everywhere be exchanged. _This value
was antecedent to and independent of their being employed as coin, and
was the quality which fitted them for that employment._”[339] Therefore
it must not be forgotten that coin is something more than money; it is
merchandise also. In this character it plays a conspicuous part in the
commerce of the world. It differs in bulk from the lumber of Maine, but
it is just as much an article of merchandise.

Regarding gold as merchandise, we see how clearly in certain places
and under certain circumstances it escapes from the scientific laws
applicable especially to coinage. Gold is unique among articles of
commerce. Every other article allows discussion as to its quality.
Cloth or wool may be more or less fine; flour more or less bolted,
or it may be made from hard or soft wheat. But gold is chemically a
simple body, and, when once refined, perfectly homogeneous, whether
from California or Siberia, from the sands of Transylvania or the
poorer sands of the Upper Rhine. Let it be once brought to any
arbitrary standard, as, say, nine tenths, and there is no difference
in its character. But this degree of fineness must be established
_in authentic manner_,--otherwise transactions in this article may
be arrested at every moment. The delicate agencies necessary for
determining its value are not easily accessible. The Government,
therefore, as representative of the community, after refining and
weighing gold, puts upon it a stamp which guaranties its weight and
fineness. Thus, the eagle, with the stamp of ten dollars, is a piece
which, according to the Act of Congress of 18th January, 1837,[340]
weighs two hundred and fifty-eight grains, with nine tenths of gold
and one tenth of alloy. The English sovereign is a stamped piece of
gold twenty-two carats fine, and of such weight in proportion to the
troy ounce that £3 17_s._ 10½_d._ make an ounce. The French franc is a
stamped piece of silver weighing exactly five grammes, and nine tenths

But in our country, and now especially in California and on the
Pacific coast, gold has become a principal article of production and
exportation, like wheat or cotton. Such is its character that it
instinctively seeks _inspection_, in order to secure a guaranty and
recommendation. Now every State has its inspectors, for instance, of
flour, pot and pearl ashes, fish, beef, and pork. In Massachusetts
there are inspectors of sole-leather, although a hide of leather is
open on all sides. But, if gold be regarded as merchandise, there is
more reason for its inspection. As it is more portable than these other
articles, so it is also more valuable, more easily lost, more easily
stolen, and more provocative to plunder. Therefore it is entitled to
peculiar safeguards.

Here, then, is the case in a nutshell. California is already a large
exporter of gold as merchandise. Oregon is now commencing a similar
career. But the gold there ought to have every advantage as merchandise
which it can derive from the inspection of the Government. Call it
protection, if you will; but I beg to submit that an interest so
important, so peculiar, and so delicate, deserves this protection.

If it be said that all this may be accomplished by an assay office,
I reply, that this does only partially what is accomplished by the
mint. The gold is delivered back in ingots stamped, so that for
certain purposes it is merchandise; but the work is only half done.
If the quantity were trivial, as at Charlotte and Dahlonega, then an
assay office would suffice; but where the supply is so great as in
California or Oregon, it would seem as if no pains ought to be spared
by the Government to facilitate the commerce in this article, or to
meet the desires of its producers. Now it is obvious that nothing in
this respect can equal the stamp upon the national coin. A courtier
said to Philip the Second of Spain, “Your golden ducats carry your name
and your features over all the countries of Europe, exciting envy and
dread.” The time for envy and dread has passed; but our eagles are not
idle. There is their inscription, _E pluribus unum_, an unquestionable
stamp of nationality and value, which they carry wherever they go.

Therefore, Sir, while admitting, that, for the sake of the coin, there
should be the highest accuracy possible in the operations of the mint,
I cannot hesitate to insist, that, regarding gold as merchandise, the
mint must be established in such localities as may be required by the
interests of commerce.

I do not think there would be any hesitation in this conclusion, if the
whole subject of coinage had not been shrouded with a certain mystery,
almost like the “black art.” This appears constantly.

    “They cannot touch me for _coining_;
    I am the king,”

says Shakespeare; and Pope says,--

          “She now contracts her vast design,
    And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.”

Like other incidents of sovereignty, coinage is reserved rightfully to
the Government, and on this account is little appreciated in its true
character. People sometimes err in not seeing that the delicate laws
applicable to this subject must not be strained to interfere with the
proper regulation of the value of gold when it has become a principal
article of commerce.

Objection is also made on the ground that a mint is necessarily
an expensive structure. But this is a mistake, arising partly from
the general mystification on the subject, and partly because the
Philadelphia mint, which we have all seen, is an expensive structure. A
mint, in plain terms, is nothing but a foundry provided with good locks
and keys. If finished elaborately and expensively, it may attract the
eye, but does not become more useful. The whole system of coinage has
been twice changed during the present generation: first, by the change
in assays of Gay-Lussac in 1830; and, secondly, by the introduction of
the Munich press worked by steam, instead of the old hand-press with
two ponderous balls as flies. And the Munich press itself has been much
improved in France by Thonnelier. Now a mint should not be so costly
as not to receive easily all improvements. The science of metallurgy
is still in progress of development, and it cannot be doubted that the
coming generation will witness improvements as important as any during
our day. The eminent French authority to whom I have already referred,
Dumas, was in the habit of ridiculing the expensive mints constructed
in France. He desired that the present mint at Paris should be
surrendered to some public office, and the business removed to an open
space in the suburbs. In his Report he has furnished estimates showing
the small expense of a mint, according to his ideas, adequate to all
the coinage of France.

If you would see how the cost of a mint in our country may swell,
at least in calculations on paper, if not in reality, I refer you
to the memorial of the Board of Trade of Philadelphia in relation
to the establishment of a branch mint at New York in 1852. But the
mint pictured here is anything but the simple foundry which I have
described, or the workshop which the Senator from Oregon asks you to

Mr. President, I hope that I have not occupied too much time with this
statement. I am led to make it in order to show, that, in differing
from the Committee on Finance, I have not proceeded without proper
consideration. There are topics connected with the subject to which I
do not allude, because I desire to confine my remarks to the points
in issue. There are also details as to the cost of coinage in a
well-regulated mint, involving the question of seigniorage, and the
essential difference between the systems of England and France, which I
should be glad to present; but I have said enough. There is, however,
one practical remark, founded on the example of Spain, which I venture
to add. It was the habit of this power to require that the initial
letter of the place of coinage should appear on every piece, so that
the coin from Madrid bore an M, from Seville an S, and that from Mexico
M. This precaution rendered each mint responsible for its own work.
In France, also, every mint had its special mark. The coins struck at
Paris bear the letter A. Perhaps a similar requirement in our country
might stimulate greater care in the several mints, by creating an
honorable rivalry.

There is one other remark which I would make before I close. Much
stress has been placed upon the opinion of the Director of the mint
at Philadelphia. Indeed, the whole case against the proposed mint has
been allowed to rest on his letter, which begins so whimsically. I hope
that I have not spoken of him too freely; but, since his authority
is invoked, I am led to ask if there is anything in his studies or
scientific attainments calculated to render him a court without appeal
on this question. It is obvious that his position for the time being
subjects him to influences hostile to new mints. He naturally seeks
to amplify his jurisdiction, and to keep the tide of gold secure so
that it shall not ebb from his marble building. Perhaps I do not use
too strong language, if I say that he is under inducements to play the
pedant for his own mint, and to quote it against every other mint. At
all events, I think the Senate will be satisfied that on the present
occasion he ought to be overruled.

    The amendment creating the Branch Mint was adopted,--Yeas 23,
    Nays 16,--and the bill passed.



    April 30, 1864, Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent
    obtained, leave to bring in the following bill, which was read
    twice, and ordered to lie on the table and be printed.

    This was a first effort for Civil Service Reform.

A Bill to provide for the greater Efficiency of the Civil Service of
the United States.

_Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled_, That the President
be, and he hereby is, authorized to appoint, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate, a Board of Examiners, consisting of three
Commissioners, at salaries of __ dollars a year. And the Commissioners
may appoint a clerk to the Board, with an annual compensation of two
thousand dollars. And these sums, and the necessary expenses of the
Board, including rent and the travelling expenses of the Commissioners
and clerk, shall be paid from any money in the Treasury not otherwise

SECTION 2. _And be it further enacted_, That no person shall be
appointed, after the date of this Act, to any civil office under the
United States, whether by way of original appointment or promotion,
unless recommended by a certificate of the Board: _Provided_, That this
shall not apply to offices the appointing power to which is by the
Constitution vested in the President by and with the advice and consent
of the Senate: but applicants for such offices shall be examined by the
Board, if they present themselves, and shall receive certificates in
the same manner as other applicants.

SECTION 3. _And be it further enacted_, That the Board shall hold
examinations of applicants for civil office under the United States at
such places as they may designate, and at times to be determined by
consideration of the needs of the service, and the number of vacancies
to be filled, after consultation with the President, courts, or heads
of departments, as the case may be, and after public notice of the
time, place, and regulations of the proposed examination.

SECTION 4. _And be it further enacted_, That applicants for
examination shall be citizens of the United States, (including all
persons born in the United States, and not owing allegiance elsewhere,)
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, and shall furnish such
testimonials of personal character and take such oath of allegiance as
the Board shall prescribe: _Provided_, That, if the examination is for
any office the duties of which are to be performed in any particular
State, then the applicant, in addition to the above requirements, shall
have resided in such State one year before the time of examination, and
in such case the Board shall designate a place of examination within
such State: _Provided, however_, That the President may suspend the
operation of the preceding proviso as to any States or parts of States
where he may deem it expedient so to do.

SECTION 5. _And be it further enacted_, That the Board shall determine,
after consultation with the President, courts, or heads of departments,
as the case may be, upon the subjects of examination, and also whether
the examination shall be oral, written, or both, and shall have full
discretion as to the regulation of the examinations, and may employ
such learned and honorable men as they may see fit to assist in the
examinations, or to superintend examinations in their absence, and
shall report their doings annually to Congress.

SECTION 6. _And be it further enacted_, That the Board, after the
examination, shall assign the rank of the applicants, according to the
degree of merit and fitness shown; and he who stands at the head of the
list shall have the choice of vacancies in the particular department
or branch for which he was examined, and so on down the list to the
minimum of merit fixed by the Board, beyond which no certificate shall
be given. The Board may, if they see fit, assign the right of seniority
as a result of the first examination, or may require a further
examination, the result of which shall determine seniority.

SECTION 7. _And be it further enacted_, That, after the appointment of
a candidate recommended by the Board, he shall not be removed except
for good cause, and promotions shall be according to seniority, which
shall be determined in all cases by the dates of the recommendations of
the Board and the rank therein assigned; but it shall be allowable to
make one fifth of the promotions on account of merit irrespective of

    This bill found an unexpected response from the public press.
    The _National Intelligencer_, at Washington, welcomed it.

        “The object of this bill commands our entire approval, and
        we hope it may equally receive the approval of Congress.
        Its passage, more than any other single decision that could
        be taken by Congress in the way of needed reforms, would
        tend to correct abuses which threaten our whole political
        system with wreck and ruin.”

    The _Evening Post_, of New York, was equally explicit.

        “This bill, if passed, would do away with what has become
        one of the most serious vices in our political life, the
        ‘Spoils system,’ as it has been appropriately called.
        Congress should, as soon as possible, provide some rules
        for the reformation of this universal evil. The patronage
        of the President and his Cabinet officers has increased, is
        increasing, and ought to be diminished; it has become, by
        the extension of the country, the increase of population
        and wealth, and especially through the circumstances of the
        present war, so vast as to be dangerous to the nation, if
        it should chance to fall into the hands of unscrupulous and
        wicked men. But, besides this, it is manifestly impossible
        to carry on the immense business of the Government without
        extraordinary and ruinous loss and waste, under the old
        system of turning out the occupants of civil offices every
        four years. The Government thus virtually refuses the
        services of trained men, familiar with the office routine.
        If we desire public affairs to be administered honestly
        and economically, Congress must provide for the numerous
        servants of the Government regular grades of promotion,
        retention of office during good behavior, and, if possible,
        a small retiring pension, which might be arranged in the
        shape of an annuity and life insurance combined.”

    The New York _Times_ noticed it at length, beginning,--

        “Mr. Sumner has introduced a bill into the Senate, which,
        owing to the general absorption of the public attention
        in the great events which are taking place in the field,
        will probably not attract much notice; but it nevertheless
        attempts to deal with a matter which is of more importance,
        we venture to say, to the stability of this Government
        than any other one thing except the extinction of the
        Rebellion. It is neither more nor less than a sweeping
        measure of administrative reform, obliging all candidates
        for situations in the public service to pass an examination
        before a board appointed for the purpose, giving them
        their offices during good behavior, and with promotion
        through the various grades in the order of seniority, and a
        retiring pension after a certain term of service.”

    The _New Nation_, of New York, said:--

        “Mr. Sumner has recently brought a bill in the Senate to
        regulate the conditions of admission to public offices of
        the highest importance to the country. This bill is based
        upon the most equitable, the most sincerely republican,
        and the most progressive principles as yet adopted in
        any country. We have not sufficient space to review
        this project at present. At the first glance we find it
        deficient only in one respect, namely, in carrying respect
        for seniority to too great an extent. If this bill is
        passed, the era of inefficiency and favoritism, hitherto
        prevailing, will be at an end.”

    The New Bedford _Mercury_ said:--

        “Mr. Sumner’s bill will cure the evils of which every
        sensible man now complains, and avert the terrible dangers
        which menace us. It contemplates a return to the practice
        of the better days of the republic, and making that
        practice the rule. ‘Is he capable? Is he honest?’ were the
        inquiries propounded by Jefferson, when a candidate for
        office was named.”

    The New York _World_ devoted a leading article to the bill,
    which it criticized.

        “We had supposed, that, in the opinion of Mr. Sumner,
        the disposition to be made of black men came nearest, in
        legislative importance, to the crushing out of the Rebels.…
        Mr. Sumner’s bill does not touch the evil in our clerical
        system. The difficulty is not in want of examination,
        classification, promotion, or pension, but springs, in the
        first place, out of the manner in which the President,
        through the heads of departments, exercises the appointing
        power, and, in the next place, out of the conduct of
        the clerks themselves, when in office. An examining
        board cannot change the general character of the men the
        President, directly or indirectly, sends before it.”

    These notices show the interest excited by this effort. In the
    various labors which occupied Mr. Sumner he was not able to
    give it the attention it required. Meanwhile the cause found an
    able advocate elsewhere.

    The next step was by Hon. Thomas A. Jenckes, of Rhode Island,
    who introduced into the House of Representatives, December
    20, 1865, a bill “To regulate the Civil Service of the United
    States,” which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
    Subsequently a special committee was appointed on the Civil
    Service of the United States, with Mr. Jenckes as Chairman, and
    June 13, 1866, he reported his bill to the House. Then again,
    at the next session, he reported another bill, “To regulate the
    Civil Service of the United States, and promote the efficiency
    thereof,” which he sustained by a forcible and elaborate
    speech; but the bill was laid on the table,--Yeas 72, Nays 66.
    Other efforts followed at subsequent sessions, but without

       *       *       *       *       *

    Meanwhile, in the Senate, on motion of Mr. Trumbull, of
    Illinois, March 3, 1871, the following section was attached to
    the General Appropriation Bill, then pending:--

        “That the President of the United States be, and he is
        hereby, authorized to prescribe such rules and regulations
        for the admission of persons into the Civil Service of the
        United States as will best promote the efficiency thereof,
        and ascertain the fitness of each candidate, in respect
        to age, health, character, knowledge, and ability, for
        the branch of service into which he seeks to enter; and
        for this purpose the President is authorized to employ
        suitable persons to conduct said inquiries, to prescribe
        their duties, and to establish regulations for the conduct
        of persons who may receive appointments in the Civil

    Under this provision President Grant appointed the following
    Commissioners: George William Curtis, of New York; Alexander G.
    Cattell, of New Jersey; Joseph Medill, of Illinois; and Dawson
    A. Walker, E. B. Elliott, Joseph H. Blackfan, and David C. Cox,
    of the District of Columbia: who, after careful consideration
    during the summer and autumn, submitted a report December 18,
    1871, with a schedule of rules and regulations, all of which
    was promptly communicated to Congress by the President.


27, 28, 1864.

    February 13th, Mr. Harlan, of Iowa, asked, and by unanimous
    consent obtained, leave to bring in a bill to amend section
    five of an Act entitled “An Act to continue, alter, and amend
    the charter of the city of Washington,” approved May 17, 1848,
    and further to preserve the purity of elections and guard
    against the abuse of the elective franchise, by a registration
    of electors for the city of Washington, in the District of
    Columbia; which was read the first and second time, and
    referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia.

    March 8th, Mr. Dixon, from the Committee, reported the bill
    without amendment.

    March 17th, the bill was taken up and amended in unimportant

    May 6th, it was again taken up, when, after an amendment moved
    by Mr. Dixon, Mr. Cowan, of Pennsylvania, moved to amend the
    bill in the first section by inserting the word “white” before
    the word “male,” so as to confine the right of voting in
    Washington to white male citizens. Mr. Sumner said at once, “I
    hope not.” Mr. Cowan then spoke in favor of his amendment.

    May 12th, Mr. Cowan remarked that the bill “would have the
    effect, in some cases, of admitting negroes to the right of
    suffrage, which, I may say, is obnoxious to the vast bulk of
    the people of the Border States.” Mr. Harlan would vote for Mr.
    Cowan’s amendment, “first, because it is manifest to the Senate
    that the bill, without that provision in it, cannot now become
    a law.” Mr. Willey, of West Virginia, spoke elaborately against
    colored suffrage, winding up with this interrogatory: “Shall
    we, without any petitions from the people of this District,
    without anything before the Senate to indicate that this
    bill, in any of its parts, is required by the people of this
    District, undertake to say, of our own volition, that we will
    impose upon them a provision which is odious to them, and will,
    in my estimation, be disastrous in its results, not only here,
    but in its influence on popular opinion everywhere in this

    Mr. Sumner followed.

MR. PRESIDENT,--Slavery dies hard. It still stands front to front
with our embattled armies, holding them in check. It dies hard on
the battle-field. It dies hard in the Senate Chamber. We have been
compelled during this session to hear various defences of Slavery,
sometimes in its most offensive forms. Slave-hunting has been openly
vindicated. And now, to-day, the exclusion of colored persons from the
electoral franchise, simply on account of color, is openly vindicated,
and the Senator from West Virginia, newly introduced into this Chamber
from a State born of Freedom, rises here to uphold Slavery in one of
its meanest products.

    MR. WILLEY. Mr. President, I cannot pass that assertion
    without giving it an unequivocal, categorical denial. I have
    not vindicated Slavery in any of its aspects. I said to the
    Senator, what perhaps he did not hear before, that, when he has
    liberated by the sweat of his brow as many slaves as I have, he
    can get up and make such a remark in regard to me.

MR. SUMNER. I said, Sir, that the Senator vindicated Slavery in
one of its meanest products. I repeat what I said. The Senator has
spoken, I do not know how long by the clock, to vindicate an odious
prejudice bequeathed by Slavery, having its origin in Slavery, and in
nothing else. Had Slavery never existed among us, there would have
been no such prejudice as that of which the Senator makes himself the
representative. Far better would it be for that Senator, who comes
into this Chamber as the representative of a new-born free State, had
he surrendered generously to the sentiment in which West Virginia had
its birth. But, instead, he comes forward and labors with unwonted
earnestness to perpetuate at the national capital an odious feature
derived from Slavery. The Senator says he has not vindicated Slavery.
If he has not used the word, he has vindicated the thing, in one of
its most odious features. He seeks to blast a whole race merely on
account of color. Would he ever have proposed such injustice, but for
the prejudices nursed by Slavery? Had not Slavery existed, would any
such idea have found place in a Senator naturally so generous and
humane? No, Sir,--he spoke with the voice of Slavery, which he cannot
yet forget. He spoke under the unhappy and disturbing influences which
Slavery has left in his mind.

Now, Sir, I am against Slavery, wherever it shows itself, whatever form
it takes. I am against Slavery, when compelled to meet it directly;
and I am against Slavery in all its products and its offspring. I
am against Slavery, when encountering the beast outright, or only
its tail. The prejudices of which the Senator makes himself the
representative to-day, permit me to say, are nothing but the tail of
Slavery. Unhappily, while we have succeeded in abolishing Slavery in
this District, we have not yet abolished the tail; and the tail has
representatives in the Senate Chamber, as the beast once had.

We have been reminded that we are engaged in a fearful conflict. The
Senator has reminded us of it. Senators nearer to me have reminded us
of it. This is too true; and now, as that conflict lowers, I invoke the
spirit of our fathers. They went forth to battle with the Declaration
of Independence on their lips, solemnly declaring that all men are born
equal, entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They
introduced no discrimination of color into that sacred text, nor into
the contemporary Articles of Confederation, nor into the Constitution
of the United States, which was the work of their hands. I am content
to be guided by their example. As they went forth to meet the enemy,
they placed themselves under the protection of the God of Justice. Let
us imitate them.

I had not intended to say a word on this occasion; but I could not
listen to the remarks of the Senator, so harsh and unfeeling toward
a whole race, belonging to the human family, like himself, without
interposing a solemn protest.

Since this debate began, I have sent to the Law Library for a volume
containing the authoritative words of a distinguished Southern
jurist, a slaveholder, with regard to the electoral franchise. It has
been a question, in what States, at the time of the adoption of the
Constitution, colored persons enjoyed this franchise. I say nothing
now about the more northern States; but there is a State, sometimes
referred to, with regard to which there is peculiar evidence: I mean
North Carolina. The enjoyment of the electoral franchise by colored
persons in that State for a long time after the Constitution is not
a matter of doubt. Her most eminent magistrate, the late Mr. Justice
Gaston, accomplished as a jurist and as a man, whom I remember well in
most agreeable personal intercourse, laid down the law of his State in
emphatic words. Pronouncing the opinion of the Supreme Court of North
Carolina in the case of _The State_ v. _Manuel_, in 1838, he said:--

    “Slaves manumitted here become freemen, and therefore, if born
    within North Carolina, are citizens of North Carolina; and all
    free persons born within the State are born citizens of the
    State.… The Constitution extended the elective franchise to
    every freeman who had arrived at the age of twenty-one and paid
    a public tax; _and it is a matter of universal notoriety, that,
    under it, free persons, without regard to color, claimed and
    exercised the franchise, until it was taken from free men of
    color a few years since by our amended Constitution_.”[342]

There is still another case, that of _The State_ v. _Newsom_, which
was decided in 1844, where the Supreme Court of North Carolina, after
citing the opinion of Judge Gaston from which I have just read,

    “That case underwent a very laborious investigation, both by
    the bar and the bench.… The case was brought here by appeal,
    and was felt to be one of great importance in principle. It was
    considered with an anxiety and care worthy of the principle
    involved, and which gave it a controlling influence and
    authority on all questions of a similar character.”[343]

Therefore not hastily or carelessly did the Supreme Court of North
Carolina declare colored persons to be voters under the State

Such was the constitutional law of North Carolina, fashioned by our
fathers under the influence of the Declaration of Independence. Sir, I
am content with that law. I do not think the Senator from Pennsylvania
[Mr. COWAN], though he represents a Northern State, can mend that law
from a Slave State. Nor do I think that any of us on this floor can
feel humbled, if our judgment is postponed to that of Judge Gaston
of North Carolina, who did not hesitate to declare positively the
constitutional law of human rights, by virtue of which colored persons
are citizens. And if they are citizens, how can you deny them the
electoral franchise?

I am content to leave the question here, adding, that, as I understand
it, I shall deem it my duty to vote against all propositions creating
any discrimination of color. At this moment of revolution, when our
country needs the blessing of Almighty God and the strong arms of all
her children, this is not the time for us solemnly to enact injustice.
In duty to our country, and in duty to God, I plead against any such
thing. We must be against Slavery in its original shape, and in all its
brood of prejudice and error.

    This bill was never considered again; but the question of
    colored suffrage in Washington reappeared.

    May 24th, Mr. Wade, from the Committee on the District of
    Columbia, reported a joint resolution to amend the charter of
    the city of Washington, which was read twice and considered
    as in Committee of the Whole. In reporting it, he said: “It
    relates to the registration of voters; and if it is to be
    passed at all, it ought to be passed immediately. I believe
    there is no objection to it. It alters none of the present
    qualifications of voters, but improves the present law as to
    registration, which is very defective.”

    May 26th, the consideration of the joint resolution was
    resumed, when Mr. Sumner said:--

Examining this joint resolution, I find that it is entitled “A
Resolution to amend the charter of the city of Washington.” In that
aspect it is important. Looking into it, I find the provision,--

    “That, in case any person shall offer and claim the right to
    vote at any election held in the city of Washington, whose
    name is not registered, his name shall be registered by the
    Commissioners of Election upon the terms and conditions

It will be observed that the language is very broad. It is applicable
to any person who shall offer and claim the right to vote at any
election; and his name shall be registered upon certain specified
conditions. The first condition is, that he shall take a certain
oath; and if unable to understand the English language, it is further
provided that the oath shall be interpreted to him: so that this clause
actually contemplates that certain persons shall be registered who do
not speak the English language. It then proceeds:--

    “If in his answers on oath he shall state positively that he
    has resided in the city one year next preceding the day of said
    election, designating particularly the place of his residence,
    and that he possesses the other qualifications of an elector,
    and if, furthermore, some qualified elector of the city, not
    a candidate for any office at that election, shall take an
    oath before said Commissioners, which any one of them may
    administer, that he is well acquainted with such applicant,
    that he is, in fact, a resident in the city, and has been one
    year next previous to such election, and that he (qualified
    elector) has good reason to believe, and does believe, that all
    the statements of such applicant are true, the Commissioners
    shall cause his name to be registered by their clerk, and shall
    then receive the vote of said applicant.”

Now it is at once perceived from these words, that they are directly
applicable, in the first place, to any person who shall offer and
claim the right to vote at an election; but, after taking the oath,
he is to show residence for a certain term in the city, and also that
“he possesses the other qualifications of an elector.” What are “the
other qualifications of an elector”? I presume, if we go back to the
original charter, we shall find it is that qualification which, as I
said the other day, is the tail of Slavery,--that discrimination of
color left to us, unhappily, by the former presence of Slavery in the
national capital. I know not if the Committee propose to keep alive
that ancient and odious discrimination; but it seems to me, that, if
the language of this joint resolution be interpreted according to its
natural signification, and certainly as such language is apt to be
interpreted here in Washington, it must operate to the exclusion of
persons not of the favored color. I know my friend from Ohio does not
contemplate such exclusion; but a joint resolution to amend the charter
of the city of Washington ought to be made clear, and also in that
respect unobjectionable; it ought not to be the means of continuing and
of extending that odious discrimination. I therefore propose to amend
it by adding these words:--

    “_Provided_, That there shall be no exclusion of any person
    from the register on account of color.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    Mr. Wade was in favor of colored suffrage; but the Committee,
    in reporting this measure, did “not contemplate going into the
    question of the right of suffrage, or extending that right
    beyond those who are at present authorized to exercise it. It
    does not widen the suffrage; it does not narrow it.”

    Mr. Sumner began a reply to Mr. Wade.

MR. PRESIDENT,--The argument of my friend from Ohio was, that the
measure now before the Senate is temporary in its character. That
is inconsistent with the title of the joint resolution, which is as

    MR. WADE. Let me explain. I say temporary, because we all
    know that there is a bill fixing the right of voting, that, I
    suppose, is intended as a permanent law. This is temporary in
    that view. That is all I meant.

MR. SUMNER. That certainly will not justify my friend in his argument,
for on the face of it this is permanent. It is as permanent as anything
else in the existing charter. Its title is, “A Resolution to amend the
charter of the city of Washington.” When this is done, what assurance
has my friend that anything else will be done? There is a bill on our
tables. How many other bills are there on other matters which we may
not reach during this session, or, if we reach, on which we cannot
expect harmonious votes in the two Houses!

    Here Mr. Sumner was interrupted by the Tax Bill, which was the
    order of the day.

    May 27th, Mr. Sumner resumed.

I was interrupted yesterday by other business, called up while I was
replying to my friend from Ohio [Mr. WADE]. I did not propose any
extended reply.

It is with pain that I differ from friends. But with me there is no
choice. Here is a measure which opens the whole question of suffrage
in the national capital, and assumes the form of amendment to the
charter of the city of Washington. It provides that certain persons
shall be registered, including even those who cannot speak English; but
in positive terms _it continues and keeps alive the old rule founded
on color_. Now, Sir, I cannot sanction any such rule directly or

But it is said, that, in pressing my amendment, the original
proposition may be lost. This I shall regret much; for I desire its
passage sincerely. But I can see no reason why a discrimination of
color should be made in the bill, or in our proceedings. If white
persons are kept out of their rights, so are colored persons; and I
would ask my friend from Ohio, Which has been kept out the longest? I
am for the rights of both, to the end that we may have at last in the
national capital _Equality before the law_.

We are shocked daily by the report of outrages upon colored persons.
In Tennessee a colored woman has been murdered under the lash. Near
Fortress Monroe another colored woman has been cruelly treated under
the lash. This must be stopped. But I know no way so effective as to
set an example of justice and humanity. If we sanction slave-hunting,
if we disregard the rights of colored persons, if we treat them as
inferior in condition, unhappily, Sir, there are others who will follow
our example, and add a vindictive cruelty.

Therefore, insisting upon the rights of colored persons here, I insist
upon their rights everywhere. Nor do I see how I can abandon their
rights here without abandoning them everywhere. We are Senators of the
United States, bound to consider the whole country in all its extent,
and to do nothing here which shall do mischief elsewhere; nor can we
yield to any local pressure, or any imagined local interests, and thus
forget the cause of justice.

It is vain to say that this measure is temporary; for, in plain terms,
it undertakes to amend the charter of Washington. It is vain to say,
also, that there is another bill now on your calendar regulating this
whole question. Who can say that this bill will become a law? Ay, Sir,
who can say, that, in the hurried hours of these closing days of a
weary session, the bill will even be considered again? And yet on these
grounds we are asked to abandon the present assertion of the rights of
colored persons. If the bill conferring these rights can pass, so also
can the present measure. If it be practical to assert these rights on
one bill, it is equally practical to assert them on another, where such
assertion is germane. It only remains that Senators should stand firm.

For myself, I will not sanction injustice; nor will I miss any
opportunity of asserting the rights of an oppressed race. I may be
alone; but, to the extent of my powers, I mean to be right.

    Mr. Morrill appealed to Mr. Sumner to withdraw his opposition,
    saying: “Now, as a question of practical statesmanship, I
    submit to my honorable friend whether it is not the part of
    wisdom to say we will do this now and we will consider the
    other question when it comes up.” Mr. Harlan moved to amend by
    adding, “who have borne arms in the military service of the
    United States, and have been honorably discharged therefrom.”
    This amendment, limiting Mr. Sumner’s proposition, was agreed
    to,--Yeas 26, Nays 12.

    May 28th, Mr. Sumner spoke again, and adduced the details of
    the recent outrage in Tennessee, saying, in conclusion:--

We all feel, Sir, the brutality of this act. It was done by a white
man on the person of a colored woman. Would he have been the author
of such a brutality, had the woman been white? No; because she was
black, he thus insulted human nature, and performed an act never to
be read without a blush that he is a member of the human family. And
how are we to discountenance such acts? Is it by keeping alive this
odious discrimination of color, by imparting to it the sanction of
law, by investing it with the authority of this Chamber? I appeal to
you, Senators, as men of humanity, do not continue a discrimination,
which, proceeding from this Chamber, must exercise a far-reaching
influence. It is not simply the question of a few voters more or less
in the District, but it is a question of human rights everywhere
throughout this land, involving the national character and its good
name forevermore.

    Again, in reply to Mr. Reverdy Johnson, Mr. Sumner said:--

But the Senator thinks that I am not logical, because I quote an
outrage in Tennessee having its origin in the prejudice of color, and
insist that here in this Chamber we shall not found legislation on
a prejudice of color. Sir, I submit the question to the judgment of
the Senate: Am I illogical, or is the Senator so? I insist, Sir, that
you cannot sanction injustice here, especially you cannot sanction a
prejudice founded on color, without quickening that prejudice, and
sustaining it, wherever it now unhappily exists throughout our whole

    At the next stage of the joint resolution, the question
    recurred on concurring with the amendment in Committee of the

        “_Provided_, That there shall be no exclusion of any
        persons from the register, on account of color, who have
        borne arms in the military service of the United States,
        and have been honorably discharged therefrom.”

    And it was rejected,--Yeas 18, Nays 20. The joint resolution
    was then passed.

    And so this second battle for colored suffrage was lost.



    The Senate having under consideration the credentials of
    certain claimants as Senators from Arkansas, Mr. Sumner offered
    the following resolution:--

_RESOLVED_, That a State pretending to secede from the Union, and
battling against the National Government to maintain this pretension,
must be regarded as a Rebel State, subject to military occupation,
and without title to representation on this floor, until it has been
readmitted by a vote of both Houses of Congress; and the Senate will
decline to entertain any application from any such Rebel State, until
after such vote of both Houses of Congress.

    June 13th, on motion of Mr. Sumner, the resolution was referred
    to the Committee on the Judiciary, at the same time with a
    joint resolution by Mr. Lane, of Kansas, recognizing the
    existing government of Arkansas, and also the credentials of
    the claimants as Senators.

    June 27th, Mr. Trumbull from the Committee reported adversely
    on all these references.

    The requirement of this resolution was affirmed by the Senate,
    when it adopted the amendment of Mr. Gratz Brown to the
    Reconstruction Bill of the House, July 1st,[344] and it became
    a corner-stone of Reconstruction.


2 AND 6, 1864.

The Senator from New York [Mr. MORGAN] has proposed the exemption of a
class of hospitals. I am in favor of his proposition. It is not now,
however, under discussion. In similar spirit I move to strike out, on
the one hundred and thirty-fifth page, lines two hundred and twelve,
two hundred and thirteen, and two hundred and fourteen, as follows:--

    “On all printed books, magazines, pamphlets, reviews, and all
    other similar printed publications, except newspapers, a duty
    of five per cent _ad valorem_.”

I make one remark on this tax. We do not tax wheat or corn, because
they are the staff of life. In my judgment, a tax on books is less
defensible than a tax on wheat or on corn. I believe books are the
staff of life; and I believe that our country would do itself honor,
if at this moment, when imposing a heavy tax upon all things, it
deliberately exempted books. The tax proposed is applicable to all
books,--books for family reading, for the library, and also for the
school. All that we can get from the tax will be very small indeed. It
will not add sensibly to the Treasury, but it will impose a burden upon
knowledge. I hope, therefore, that the Senate will strike the words out.

    The motion was rejected.

    At the next stage of the bill Mr. Sumner renewed his motion to
    strike out the tax on books, and then said:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--I am sorry to occupy the attention of the Senate, even
for a moment, especially at this late stage of a protracted debate.
But I feel that the question which I have presented is not adequately
appreciated. I venture to say, that, in point of principle, few
questions of equal importance have arisen on this bill.

The tax on books is peculiar, and, so far as I know, without precedent
in other countries. In England paper has been taxed, but books not;
here paper is to be taxed, and books too. For instance, there is to be
a tax of three per cent on paper, and then five per cent additional on
books, making a sum-total of eight per cent on books.

The tax of three per cent on paper seems contrary to sound policy.
But the additional tax of five per cent on books is more indefensible
still. I have already likened it to a tax on wheat or flour or bread,
which you do not think of imposing. More than either of these is a book
“the staff of life.” It may be likened also to a tax on the light of
day, like the English window-tax, which you do not think of imposing.
Better shut out the light of day than the light of books.

The book in some cases may be a luxury, but in most cases it is a
necessary, while always the handmaid of civilization. It is for all
ages and all conditions,--for young and old, for rich and poor, for the
family circle as well as the library,--but it is especially for the
school. In all these places you will enter and demand eight per cent on
every book. Every book, if it had a voice, would repel the demand.

Why not be instructed by the example of England, when taxing
everything taxable? Read the extensive list of articles taxed at the
period of most searching and wide-spread taxation, and you do not find
books. Read that marvellous enumeration made by the genius of Sydney
Smith, and you do not find books.

    “Taxes upon every article which enters into the mouth, or
    covers the back, or is placed under the foot; taxes upon
    everything which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell,
    or taste; taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion; taxes
    on everything on earth and the waters under the earth, on
    everything that comes from abroad or is grown at home; taxes
    on the raw material; taxes on every fresh value that is added
    to it by the industry of man; taxes on the sauce which pampers
    man’s appetite, and the drug that restores him to health,--on
    the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs
    the criminal,--on the poor man’s salt, and the rich man’s
    spice,--on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of
    the bride,--at bed or board, couchant or levant,--we must pay.
    The school-boy whips his taxed top; the beardless youth manages
    his taxed horse with a taxed bridle on a taxed road; and the
    dying Englishman, pouring his medicine which has paid seven
    per cent into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent, flings
    himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per
    cent, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a
    license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to
    death. His whole property is then immediately taxed from two
    to ten per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded
    for burying him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down
    to posterity on taxed marble; and he is then gathered to his
    fathers, to be taxed no more.”[345]

A passage so exquisite in wit and language is seasonable here,
especially when considering what shall be taxed; but I ask you to bear
in mind that the English tax-gatherer never laid his hand on a book.
Everything else he might touch,--a book never.

And yet in our country it is proposed to tax books. This is the land of
public schools, where you boast that education, like justice, is free
to all at the common cost. But a tax on books is in direct conflict
with this beautiful principle. Every argument for free schools pleads
also for free books,--at least for freedom from taxation. It will be
a curious inconsistency to rear the school-house, often costly, where
every child is welcomed without charge, and then compel him to pay a
tax of eight per cent on every book he carries in his satchel.

There is one term which fitly characterizes this tax. It is a term
adopted abroad, but more justly applicable to a tax on books than
to any other tax: I mean _a tax on knowledge_. Such is the tax now
proposed. And this tax, which cannot be named without awakening just
condemnation, you are asked to make an American institution. After long
struggle in England, the various _taxes on knowledge_ are abandoned. I
hope that our country, representative and defender of liberal ideas,
will not commence a system which modern civilization has disowned.

I ask for the yeas and nays.

    The motion was lost,--Yeas 8, Nays 19.


BUREAU OF FREEDMEN, JUNE 8, 14, 15, 1864, AND FEBRUARY 13, 21, 22, 1865.

    March 1, 1864, after debate on different days in February, the
    House of Representatives adopted a bill to establish a Bureau
    of Freedmen’s Affairs.

    March 2d, in the Senate, this bill was referred to the
    Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, of which Mr. Sumner was

    May 25th, Mr. Sumner reported the bill to the Senate with
    a substitute. The intermediate period was occupied by the
    Committee in a careful and laborious consideration of the
    whole subject, involving the question of power proper for the
    Bureau, whether it should be placed in the War Department or
    in the Treasury Department, which already had the care of
    abandoned lands. No less than nine different projects were
    laid before the Committee, some by eminent citizens interested
    in the freedmen, among whom were Hon. Robert Dale Owen, of
    Indiana, Hon. John Jay, of New York, and Edward L. Pierce, of
    Massachusetts. The House bill was not satisfactory. Mr. Owen
    said, in a letter dated March 8th, “In my judgment the bill of
    the House will not work.”

    The bill reported by Mr. Sumner was drafted by him, and adopted
    by the Committee. It was in ten sections, and began with these
    words: “That an office is hereby created in the Treasury
    Department, to be called the Bureau of Freedmen, meaning
    thereby such persons as have become free since the beginning of
    the present war.”

    June 8th, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill, when Mr.
    Sumner explained and vindicated it.

MR. PRESIDENT,--The Senate only a short time ago was engaged for a week
considering how to open an iron way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
It is now to consider how to open a way from Slavery to Freedom.

I regret much that only thus tardily we are able to take up the bill
for a Bureau of Freedmen. But I trust that nothing will interfere with
its consideration. In what I have to say, I shall confine myself to a
simple statement. If I differ from others, I beg to be understood it is
in no spirit of controversy and with no pride of opinion. Nothing of
the kind can enter justly into any such discussion.

I shall not detain the Senate to set forth the importance of this
measure. All must confess it at a glance. It is clearly a charity and a

By virtue of existing Acts of Congress, and also under the Proclamation
of the President, large numbers of slaves have suddenly become free.
These may be counted by the hundred thousand. In the progress of
victory they will be counted by the million.

As they derive their freedom from the United States, under legislative
or executive acts, the National Government cannot be excused from
making such provisions as may be required for their immediate
protection and welfare during the present _transition period_. The
freedom conferred must be rendered useful, or at least saved from being
a burden. Reports, official and unofficial, show the necessity of
action. In some places it is a question of life and death.

It is superfluous to quote at length from these reports, while all
testify alike, whether from Louisiana, South Carolina, Fortress Monroe,
Vicksburg, Tennessee, or Arkansas. I know not where the call is most
urgent. It is urgent everywhere; and in some places it is the voice of

Wherever our arms have prevailed, the old social system has been
destroyed. Masters have fled, and slaves have assumed a new character.
Released from former obligations, and often adrift in the world,
they naturally look to the prevailing power. Here, for instance, is
testimony which I take from an excellent report in the department of
Tennessee, under date of April 29, 1863:--

    “Negroes, in accordance with the Acts of Congress, free on
    coming within our lines, circulated much like water; the task
    was to care for and render useful.

    “They rolled like eddies around military posts; many of the
    men employed in accordance with Order No. 72, district West
    Tennessee; women and children largely doing nothing but eating
    and idling, the dupes of vice and crime, the unsuspecting
    sources of disease.”

From this statement Senators may form an idea of the numbers seeking

The question is often asked as to the disposition of those persons to
labor. Here, also, the testimony is explicit. I have in my hand the
answers from different stations on this point.

    “QUESTION. ‘What of their disposition to labor?’

    “ANSWER. _Corinth._ ‘So far as I have tested it, better than I
    expected; willing to work for money, except in waiting on the
    sick. One hundred and fifty hands gathered five hundred acres
    of cotton in less than three weeks, much of which time was bad
    weather. The owner admitted that it was done more quickly than
    it could have been done with slaves. When detailed for service,
    they generally remained till honorably discharged, even when
    badly treated. I am well satisfied, from careful calculations,
    that the contrabands of this camp and district have netted
    the Government, over and above all their expenses, including
    rations, tents, &c., at least $3,000 per month, independent of
    what the women do, and all the property brought through our
    lines from the Rebels.’

    “_Cairo._ ‘Willing to labor, when they can have proper motives.’

    “_Grand Junction._ ‘Have manifested considerable disposition to
    escape labor, having had no sufficient motives to work.’

    “_Holly Springs and Memphis._ ‘With few exceptions, generally
    willing, even without pay. Paid regularly, they are much more

    “_Memphis._ ‘Among men better than among women. Hold out to
    them the inducements, benefit to themselves and friends,
    essential to the industry of any race, and they would at once
    be diligent and industrious.’

    “_Bolivar._ ‘Generally good; would be improved by the idea of

Here, also, is a glimpse at Newbern, North Carolina, under date of
February 26, 1864:--

    “Immediately on my return here, on the 12th of October, I
    instituted measures for placing the different abandoned
    plantations within our lines in this State under proper
    management and cultivation. As soon as it became known, that,
    as supervising Treasury agent, I had charge of this property, I
    was visited by hundreds (and I might correctly say thousands)
    of contrabands, along with numerous white persons, desiring to
    obtain privileges to work upon the same.”

And here is the testimony of General Banks, in Louisiana:--

    “Wherever in the department they have been well treated and
    reasonably compensated, they have invariably rendered faithful
    service to their employers. From many persons who manage
    plantations I have received the information that there is no
    difficulty whatever in keeping them at work, if the conditions
    to which I have referred are complied with.”

I do not quote further, for it would simply take time. But I cannot
forbear adding that the report from the Commissioners on Freedmen,
appointed by the Secretary of War, accumulates ample testimony on this
head, all showing that the freedmen are anxious to find employment.
Your Treasury testifies to their productive power, for it contains at
this moment more than a million dollars which have come from the sweat
of freedmen.

It is evident, then, that the freedmen are not idlers. They desire
work. But, in their helpless condition, they have not the ability
to obtain it without assistance. They are alone, friendless, and
uninformed. The curse of Slavery is still upon them. Somebody must
take them by the hand,--not to support them, but simply to help them
obtain the work which will support them. Thus far private societies in
different parts of the country, at the East and the West, especially
at all the principal centres, have done much toward this charity.
But private societies are inadequate to the duties required. The
intervention of the National Government is necessary. Without such
intervention, many of those poor people, freed by our acts in the
exercise of a military necessity, will be left to perish.

The service required is too vast and complex for unorganized
individuals. It must proceed from the National Government. This alone
can supply the adequate machinery, and extend the proper network of
assistance, with the proper unity of operation. The National Government
must interfere in the case, precisely as in building the Pacific
Railroad. Private charity in our country is active and generous; but it
is powerless to cope with the evils arising from a wicked institution;
nor can it provide a remedy, where society itself is overthrown.

There are few who will not admit that something must be done by the
Government. Cold must be the heart that could turn away from this call.
But whatever is done must be through some designated agency; and this
brings me to another aspect of the question.

The President in his Proclamation of Emancipation has used the
following language: “I recommend to them,”--that is, to the
freedmen,--“that in all cases, when allowed, they labor faithfully
for reasonable wages.” Such is the recommendation from that supreme
authority which decreed Emancipation. They are to labor, and for
reasonable wages. But the President does not undertake to say how this
opportunity shall be obtained,--how the laborer shall be brought in
connection with the land, how his rights shall be protected, and how
his new-found liberty shall be made a blessing. It was enough, perhaps,
on the occasion of the Proclamation, that the suggestion should be
made. Faithful labor and reasonable wages: let these be secured, and
everything else will follow. But how shall they be secured?

Different subjects, as they become important, are committed to special
bureaus. I need only refer to Patents, Agriculture, Public Lands,
Pensions, and Indian Affairs,--each under the charge of a separate
Commissioner. Clearly, the time has come for a Bureau of Freedmen.
In speaking of this agency, I mean a bureau which will be confined
in operation to the affairs of freedmen, and not travel beyond this
increasing class to embrace others, although of African descent. Our
present necessity is to help those made free by the present war; and
the term “freedmen” describes sufficiently those who have once been
slaves. It is this class we propose to help during the _transition
period_ from Slavery to Freedom. Call it charity or duty, it is sacred
as humanity.

And here a practical question arises with regard to the department in
which this bureau should be placed. There are reasons for placing it in
the War Department, at least during the war. There are other reasons
for placing it in the Department of the Interior, which has charge of
Indian Affairs, Pensions, and Patents. But, whatever the reasons on
general grounds for placing it in one of these two departments, there
are other reasons, of special importance at this moment, which point
to the Treasury Department. Indeed, after careful consideration, the
Committee were satisfied that it was so clearly associated with other
interests already intrusted to this department, that it could not be
advantageously administered elsewhere. Although beginning this inquiry
with a conviction in favor of the War Department, I could not resist
the conclusion of the Committee.

Look, for one moment, at the class of duties already imposed upon the
Treasury Department in connection with the very homes of these freedmen.

Congress has, by special Acts, conferred upon the Secretary of the
Treasury extraordinary powers with regard to trade in the Rebel
States. There is, first, the Act of July 13, 1861, entitled “An Act
further to provide for the collection of duties on imports, and for
other purposes,” which declares that commercial intercourse with any
State or part of a State in rebellion, when licensed by the President,
“shall be conducted and carried on _only in pursuance_ of rules and
regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.” And it is
further provided, that “the Secretary of the Treasury may appoint
such officers, at places where officers of the customs are not now
authorized by law, as may be needed to carry into effect such licenses,
rules, and regulations.”[346]

There is another Act of Congress, approved May 20, 1862, supplementary
to that just named, which confers additional powers upon the Secretary
of the Treasury with reference to trade with “any place in the
possession or under the control of insurgents against the United

There is also the Act of June 7, 1862, entitled “An Act for the
collection of direct taxes in insurrectionary districts within the
United States, and for other purposes.” In this Act it is provided,
(section nine,) that, where the Board of Commissioners shall be
satisfied that the owners of lands “have left the same to join the
Rebel forces, or otherwise to engage in and abet this Rebellion, and
the same shall have been struck off to the United States at public
sale, the said Commissioners shall, in the name of the United States,
enter upon and take possession of the same, and may lease the same,
together or in parcels, to any person or persons who are citizens of
the United States”; and (section ten) the Commissioners “shall from
time to time make such temporary rules and regulations and insert such
clauses in said leases as shall be just and proper to secure proper and
reasonable employment and support, at wages or upon shares of the crop,
of such persons and families as may be residing upon the said parcels
or lots of land, which said rules and regulations are declared to be
subject to the approval of the President.”[348] The execution of this
Act is lodged in the Treasury Department.

Then comes the Act of Congress, approved March 12, 1863, entitled “An
Act to provide for the collection of abandoned property and for the
prevention of frauds in insurrectionary districts within the United
States,” under which the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized “to
appoint a special agent or agents to receive and collect all abandoned
or captured property in any State or Territory or any portion of any
State or Territory of the United States, designated as in insurrection
against the lawful Government of the United States.” The Act proceeds
with details on the subject.[349]

Such are powers conferred by Congress upon the Treasury Department
concerning trade and abandoned property in the Rebel States. These were
followed by a general order from the War Department, as follows:--

                       “GENERAL ORDERS, No. 331.

                            “WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL’S OFFICE,
                                          “WASHINGTON, October 9, 1863.

    “The President orders:--

    “1. All houses, tenements, lands, and plantations, except
    such as may be required for military purposes, which have
    been or may be deserted and abandoned by insurgents within
    the lines of the military occupation of the United States
    forces in States declared by proclamation of the President to
    be in insurrection, will hereafter be under the supervision
    and control of the supervising special agents of the Treasury

    “2. All commanders of military departments, districts, and
    posts will, upon receipt of this order, surrender and turn over
    to the proper supervising special agent such houses, tenements,
    lands, and plantations, not required for military uses, as may
    be in their possession or under their control; and all officers
    of the army of the United States will at all times render to
    the agents appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury all such
    aid as may be necessary to enable them to obtain possession of
    such houses, tenements, lands, and plantations, and to maintain
    their authority over the same.

        “By order of the Secretary of War.

            “E. D. TOWNSEND,
        “_Assistant Adjutant-General_.”

By this order, the Treasury Department is substituted for the War
Department in jurisdiction over “houses, tenements, lands, and
plantations deserted and abandoned by insurgents within the lines of
military occupation.” This is broad, but it is positive.

In pursuance of these Acts of Congress, and of this order of the War
Department, the Secretary of the Treasury has proceeded to appoint
special agents and to establish a code of regulations. I have in my
hands a small volume, entitled “Commercial Intercourse with and in
States declared in Insurrection, and the Collection of Abandoned
and Captured Property,”[350] containing the statutes and also the
departmental regulations on the subject. It appears that there is
already an organization under the Secretary of the Treasury, and also a
system, each of reasonable completeness, to carry out these purposes.

       *       *       *       *       *

In determining where the Bureau of Freedmen should be placed, it
becomes important to consider the interests it is proposed to guard;
and this brings me to another aspect of the question.

Looking at the freedmen whose welfare is in question, we find that
their labor may be classified under two different heads: first,
_military_; and, secondly, _predial_, or relating to farms. There are
still other laborers, including especially mechanics; but these are
chiefly in the towns. The large mass are included in the two classes
I have named. It is, therefore, these two classes that are to be
particularly considered.

1. The first class is already provided for. It appears that one
hundred thousand freedmen are already engaged in the military service
as soldiers or laborers. Others will continue to be engaged in this
way. These are all naturally and logically under the charge of the
War Department; nor do they need the superintendence of the proposed
bureau. The Act of Congress equalizing their condition in the army of
the United States is better for them than any bureau.

2. But there will remain the other larger class, consisting in the
main of women and children and farm laborers, who must find employment
on the abandoned lands. To this labor they are accustomed. These lands
are their natural home. But this class must naturally and logically
come under the charge of the department which has charge of the
abandoned lands. Conceding that all in the military service fall under
the superintendence of the War Department, it follows with equal reason
that all who labor on the lands must fall under the superintendence
of the Treasury Department, so long, at least, as this department has
charge of the lands.

This conclusion seems so reasonable that your Committee were not able
to resist it. But the testimony of persons who have given particular
attention to the question is also explicit; so that experience is in
harmony with reason. I have in my hands a letter from Colonel McKaye,
an eminent citizen of New York, and also a member of the Commission to
inquire and report on this subject, appointed by the Secretary of War.
After visiting South Carolina and Louisiana, expressly to study the
necessities of freedmen, and to ascertain what could be done to benefit
them, he thus expresses himself:--

    “_In the first place_, everybody who has had any _practical
    experience_ of the working of the plantations or of the
    superintendence of negro labor will tell you that _the control
    of the abandoned plantations and the care of the colored people
    must be in the same hands_.”

You will not fail to observe how positively this _expert_ speaks.
According to him, all who have had “practical experience” insist that
the care of the freedmen and of the plantations should be “in the same
hands”; and so important does he regard this point that he places it
first in consideration.

But Colonel McKaye is not alone. Here is a letter from Hon. Robert
Dale Owen, Chairman of the Commission on Freedmen, appointed by the
Secretary of War, which testifies as follows:--

    “It will never do to have Treasury agents who lease the lands
    to white men, and War Department agents who assign the same
    lands to colored people. Nothing but confusion and conflict of
    authority can result. It will not work at all. But even if it
    would, why employ two sets of agents to do what one set can do
    much better? And who is to inspect the leased plantations, and
    see to it that neither employers nor employed are wronged? The
    men who gave the leases? But they are Treasury agents, and have
    nothing to do with freedmen. Or the Freedmen’s Commissioners?
    But what authority can they have over men who do not hold their
    leases from them? _The men who have the care of the laborer
    ought to have the leasing of the land and the inspection of
    the leases_; and they should be authorized to lease equally to
    white and to colored people.”

Such a statement is an argument.

This conclusion has the support also of General Banks, in a letter
addressed to one of the Freedmen’s Commission. Here are his words:--

    “The assignment of the abandoned or forfeited plantations
    to one department of the Government, and the protection and
    support of the emancipated people to another, _is a fundamental
    error productive of incalculable evils, and cannot be too soon
    or too thoroughly corrected_.”

The able and elaborate report from the Freedmen’s Commission, just
published, considers this question carefully. Nothing could be more
explicit than the following testimony.

    “But, in the judgment of the Commission, the most serious error
    in connection with the present arrangements for the care and
    protection of these people _arises out of the assignment to
    a different agency of the care and disposal of the abandoned
    plantations_. To enter into the detail of all the evils and
    abuses that have arisen out of this error, and which are
    unavoidable so long as it continues to exist, would occupy too
    great a space in this report. Suffice it to say, that it is
    the source of the greatest confusion and a perpetual collision
    between the different local authorities, in which not only the
    emancipated population, but the Government itself, suffers the
    most serious injuries and losses.


    “And this is the purport of all the testimony which the
    Commission has been able to obtain, not in the department of
    the Gulf only, but everywhere, in relation to this matter.

    “The unhesitating judgment of every person, official or other,
    not interested in the opportunities it affords for peculation,
    with whom we have consulted, coincides with that of General
    Banks. All, without exception, declare that no system can
    avail to effect the great objects contemplated that does not
    assign to one and the same authority the care and disposal of
    the abandoned plantations and the care and protection of the
    emancipated laborers who are to cultivate them.

    “_And, after the most thorough investigations, I am authorized
    in saying that this is the deliberate judgment of the

It was on this ground of reason, and yielding to the influence of such
authoritative opinions, that the Committee were led to believe that
there was no alternative on this practical question.

In the course of their inquiries the Committee sought the opinion of
the Secretary of the Treasury. With the heavy burdens of his department
resting on his shoulders, he does not desire any additional labor; but
he does not conceal his conviction that the care of the freedmen must
for the present be associated with the care of the lands. He would be
glad to be relieved of all the responsibilities connected with the
subject, but he hopes that it will not be divided between two different
departments. In that event it is feared that there will be little good
from either.

I have dwelt with some minuteness on this question, because it seems
to be the practical point on which there may be difference of opinion.
Already gentlemen have taken sides, and newspapers also. I regret this
difference, but I trust that a calm and dispassionate consideration of
the subject will render it innocuous. The first thought of all should
be for the freedmen.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another point, which ought not to be passed over in silence,
arising from the just desire to protect the freedmen from any system of
serfdom or enforced apprenticeship. It is well known that among former
slave-masters there are many who continue to count upon appropriating
the labor of their slaves, if not under the name of Slavery, at least
under some other system by which freedmen shall be effectually held to
service. This very phrase “held to service,” standing alone, is the
pleonastic definition of Slavery itself. One of these slave-masters, in
a public speech, said: “There is really no difference, in my opinion,
whether we hold them as absolute slaves or obtain their labor by some
other method. Of course we prefer the old method; but that question is
not now before us.”[352] Such barefaced avowals were not needed to put
humane men on their guard against the conspiracy to continue Slavery
under another name.

The bill before the Senate provides against any such possibility by
requiring that the assistant commissioners and local superintendents
shall not only aid the freedmen in the adjustment of their wages, but
shall take care that they do not suffer from ill-treatment or any
failure of contract on the part of others,--and also that the contracts
for service shall be limited to a year. The latter provision is so
important that I give it precisely.

    “_Provided_, That no freedmen shall be held to service on any
    estate above mentioned otherwise than according to voluntary
    contract, reduced to writing, and certified by the assistant
    commissioner or local superintendent; nor shall any such
    contract be for a longer period than twelve months.”

Here is a safeguard against serfdom or enforced apprenticeship which
seemed to the Committee of especial value. In this respect the House
bill was thought to be fatally defective, inasmuch as it interposed no
positive safeguards.

I do not know how extensive the desire may be to set Slavery again
on its feet under another name. But when we take into consideration
the selfish tendencies of business, the disposition of the strong to
appropriate the labor of the weak, and the reluctance of slave-masters
to renounce habitual power, I have felt that Congress would fail in
its duty, if it did not by special provision guard against any such
outrage. There must be no Slavery under an _alias_. This infinite wrong
must not be allowed to skulk in serfdom or compulsory labor. “Once
free, always free,”--such is the maxim of justice and jurisprudence.
But any system by which the freedmen may be annexed to the soil, like
the old _adscripti glebæ_, will be in direct conflict with their newly
acquired rights. They can be properly bound only by contract; and
considering how easily they may be induced to enter into engagements
ignorantly or heedlessly, and thus become the legal victims of
designing men, it is evident that no precautions in their behalf can be
too great.

It is well known that in some of the British West Indies an attempt
was made, at the period of emancipation, to establish a system of
apprenticeship, which should be an intermediate condition between
Slavery and Freedom. But the experiment failed. In some of the
islands it was abandoned by the planters themselves, who frankly
accepted emancipation outright; and in all it finally fell before the
irresistible eloquence of Brougham. Here is a passage from one of his

    “They who always dreaded Emancipation, who were alarmed at
    the prospect of negro indolence, who stood aghast at the
    vision of negro rebellion, should the chains cease to rattle
    or the lash to resound through the air, gathering no wisdom
    from the past, still persist in affrighting themselves and
    scaring you with imaginary apprehensions from the transition
    to entire freedom out of the present intermediate state. But
    that intermediate state is the very source of all their real
    danger; and I disguise not its magnitude from myself. You have
    gone too far, if you stop here and go no farther; _you are in
    imminent hazard, if, having loosened the fetters, you do not
    strike them off_,--if, leaving them ineffectual to restrain,
    you let them remain to gall and to irritate and to goad. Beware
    of that state, yet more unnatural than slavery itself, _liberty
    bestowed by halves_.


    “I have demonstrated to you that everything is ordered, every
    previous step taken, all safe, by experience shown to be safe,
    for the long desired consummation. The time has come, the
    trial has been made, the hour is striking; you have no longer
    a pretext for hesitation or faltering or delay. The slave
    has shown, by four years’ blameless behavior and devotion to
    the pursuits of peaceful industry, that he is as fit for his
    freedom as any English peasant, ay, or any lord whom I now
    address. I demand his rights,--_I demand his liberty without
    stint_,--in the name of justice and of law, in the name of
    reason, in the name of God, who has given you no right to work

But surely there is no need of eloquence or persuasion to induce you
to set your faces like flint against any such half-way system. Freedom
already declared must be secured completely, so that it may not fail
through any pretension or fraud of wicked men. The least that can be
done is what is proposed by your Committee.

Much more might be said on the whole subject; but I forbear. I have
opened to consideration the two principal questions. If the Senate
agree with the Committee, first, on the importance of keeping the
superintendence of the freedmen and of lands in the same hands, so as
to avoid local conflict and discord, and, secondly, in the importance
of providing surely against any system of serfdom or adscription to the
soil, the bill of the Committee must be adopted.

For the sake of plainness, I ask attention to the general character of
the bill in its main features.

1. It provides exclusively for freedmen, meaning thereby “such persons
as have once been slaves,” without undertaking to embrace persons
generally of African descent.

2. It seeks to secure for such freedmen the opportunity of labor on
those lands which are natural and congenial to them, and on this
account it places superintendence of the freedmen in a department
having superintendence of the lands.

3. It provides positively against any system of enforced labor or
apprenticeship, by requiring contracts between the freedmen and their
employers to be carefully attested before local officers.

4. It establishes careful machinery for the purposes of the bill, both
as regards freedmen and as regards lands.

But the bill is seen not only in what it does, but also in what it
avoids doing.

It does not undertake too much. It does not assume to provide ways and
means for the support of the freedmen; but it does look to securing
them the opportunities of labor according to well-guarded contracts and
under the friendly advice of agents of the Government, who will take
care that they are protected from abuse of all kinds.

It is the declared duty of the agents “to protect these persons in
the enjoyment of their rights, to promote their welfare, and to secure
to them and their posterity the blessings of liberty.” Under these
comprehensive words all that is proper and constitutional is authorized
for their welfare and security, while labor is made to go hand in hand.
Thus far in the sad history of this people labor has been compelled by
Slavery. But the case at last will be reversed. It is Liberty that will
conduct the freedman to the fields, protect him in his toil, and secure
to him all its fruits.

In closing what I have to say on this subject, allow me to read the
official testimony of the Commission on Freedmen, appointed by the
Secretary of War, in their recent report.

    “For a time we need a Freedmen’s Bureau,--but not because these
    people are negroes, only because they are men who have been
    for generations despoiled of their rights. The Commission has
    heretofore--to wit, in the Supplemental Report made to you in
    December last--recommended the establishment of such a bureau;
    and they believe that all that is essential to its proper
    organization is contained, substantially, in a bill to that
    effect, reported, on April 12, from the Senate Committee on
    Slavery and Freedmen.”[354]

This is the bill before us.

It is for the Senate to determine, under the circumstances, what it
will do. My earnest hope is that it will do something. The opportunity
must not be lost of helping so many persons now helpless, and of aiding
the cause of reconciliation, without which peace cannot be assured. In
this spirit I leave the whole subject to the judgment of the Senate. If
anything better than the work of the Committee can be found, I hope it
will be adopted; meanwhile I ask you to accept what is now offered.

    After various amendments moved by Mr. Sumner, the bill was
    violently opposed by Mr. Richardson, of Illinois. In the course
    of his speech the following colloquy occurred.

        MR. RICHARDSON. The Senator from Massachusetts will be able
        to carry his proposition next winter, if the people can be
        deceived to reëlect Lincoln.

        MR. SUMNER. I hope this summer.

        MR. RICHARDSON. You have no show in the world this summer.
        If you could carry that proposition now, you could not
        carry one of the Northwestern States this fall.

    June 14th, the consideration of the bill was renewed, when Mr.
    Hendricks, of Indiana, spoke against it. He moved to strike out
    “Treasury Department,” and insert “Department of the Interior.”
    On this motion Mr. Sumner said:--

The point to which the Senator directs attention was considered very
carefully by the Committee. Were this a moment of peace, I believe the
Committee would have been unanimous in the idea of the Senator. Indeed,
it seems to me, the reasons for it in time of peace are unanswerable.
It is in the Interior Department that we place the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, the Bureau of Pensions, the Bureau of Patents, the Bureau of
Public Lands; and a Bureau of Freedmen would be more or less germane
to all these interests. It would naturally be lodged in the same
department with them. Naturally it belongs to the Interior; there
can be no question about it. The Senator, therefore, is perfectly
right, when he makes the suggestion. But the Senator should take into
consideration that at this moment we are acting provisionally, and not
permanently,--under suggestions growing out of the present state of the
country, and not as if we were in a condition of permanent peace.

In placing the bureau where the Committee have placed it, they
followed what seemed the necessities of the case. Congress, by previous
legislation, has practically placed the bureau in the Treasury
Department,--or rather it has rendered it necessary that it should be
placed there, unless we are willing by legislation to create a conflict
between two different departments. Congress has already placed in the
Treasury Department the control of the business relations between
the Rebel States and the Loyal States, and also the control of the
abandoned lands and plantations in the Rebel States. Now, as I tried to
exhibit the other day, when I opened this question, the main interest
for the moment is how to bring the freedmen in connection with the
lands. If you go beyond that, if you undertake to provide means for
their support, you assume what I believe the country does not expect
you to assume, and what I believe those who have the welfare of that
people most at heart do not venture to counsel. We desire to secure
for them opportunity,--opportunity to work: that is the main point,
and that can be secured only by bringing them in connection with the
lands. The care and guardianship of the lands where it is proposed to
place the freedmen have already, by previous legislation, I repeat,
been lodged with the Treasury Department. Therefore, naturally and
logically, it seems to follow, unless you are willing to create a
conflict between two different departments, or between the agents
of two different departments, that you should place the care of the
freedmen in the same department.

Sir, I am not alone in this view. The other day I presented it, and
gave opinions on the subject, to which I now call attention: one is a
private letter from Hon. Robert Dale Owen, and the other is part of the
Report of the Freedmen’s Commission, appointed by the Secretary of War
to consider, among other questions, that now before the Senate.[355]

    The amendment of Mr. Hendricks was rejected. Mr. Willey, of
    West Virginia, then spoke against the bill. He said: “In my
    opinion, after as close and careful an examination of this bill
    as I have been able to give to it, its proper title would be ‘A
    bill to reënslave freedmen.’ … Sir, in the name of Liberty and
    Emancipation I protest against the passage of any such bill by
    the American Senate.”

    June 15th, the debate was continued, when the bill was opposed
    by Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, Mr. Hicks, of Maryland, and Mr.
    Grimes, of Iowa. Mr. Ten Eyck, of New Jersey, spoke in favor
    of it. Mr. Carlile, of Virginia, moved to postpone its further
    consideration to the first Monday of December next, which was
    lost,--Yeas 13, Nays 23. Mr. Grimes was particularly severe in
    his criticism, which drew from Mr. Sumner the following reply.

I am sorry that I am obliged to say another word in this debate. I had
hoped to be excused. But the remarks of the Senator from Iowa [Mr.
GRIMES] leave me no alternative.

I am not astonished at the opposition this bill has encountered
from Senators over the way. It is their vocation to oppose every
such measure, and to give it, if possible, a bad name. They believe
in Slavery more or less, and will not do anything to remove it or to
mitigate its terrible curse. There is the Senator from West Virginia
[Mr. WILLEY], who gives us smooth words for Freedom, with boasts of the
slaves he has emancipated, and then straightway, by voice and vote,
sustains slave-hunting, and, if possible, worse still, startles the
Senate by a menace that slaves set free by Act of Congress will be
reënslaved by States restored to the Union. That this Senator should
attack a bill for a Bureau of Freedmen is perfectly natural; nor am
I astonished that he should misrepresent its character. But I cannot
conceal my surprise at the course of the Senator from Iowa, who I know
has no love for Slavery, and no congenital, persistent, and rooted
prejudices against the colored race. If the Senator from West Virginia
spoke naturally, allow me to say that my friend from Iowa spoke

Sir, the Senator has not done justice to the bill he undertook to
criticize. It was evident that he spoke hastily, without having even
read it. At least, this is not an improper assumption, when we consider
some of his criticisms. It will be remembered how promptly I corrected
him, while he was picturing the Assistant Commissioners as so utterly
without restraint that they were not even obliged to make reports.
I rose and read the clause in the bill expressly requiring not only
“quarterly reports,” but “other special reports from time to time.”
The Senator, surprised by this provision, replied, that it was at the
close of the bill, and was evidently an afterthought. This, again,
was a mistake. Had he read the bill carefully, he would have found,
that, whatever its merits in other respects, everything is introduced
in its proper place, and this provision is no exception. There is
no afterthought in the bill. The Senator then complained that the
Assistant Commissioner was not obliged to give a bond. Here, again,
he was mistaken. By an amendment moved by myself this was required.
All this was part of the attempt to show that the bureau had not been
planned with sufficient care. Suffice it to say that there is no bureau
of the Government constituted with more care, or surrounded with more
safeguards against abuse. Much, in the last resort, must be confided to
the honesty of public servants; but in the present case they are all
placed under the observation of their superiors. Superintendents will
be observed by the Assistant Commissioner, who will be observed by the
Commissioner, and all will be under the observation of the Secretary of
the Treasury, who himself is under the observation of the President;
and I need not add that the whole will be subject to the oversight of a
humane and enlightened people, awakening daily to a sense of obligation
which cannot be postponed.

I am not wrong, then, when I say that the Senator did injustice to
the bill in his criticism on its structure and the machinery it
establishes. But this was the smallest part of his injustice. He went
further, and, following the Senator from West Virginia, asserted that
it gave the Commissioner unlimited power and control, so as to hand
the unhappy freedman over to Slavery under another name. I looked at
the Senator to see if he were really serious, as he made this strange
accusation against a measure conceived in a sentiment of humanity and
equity, and, by positive provisions, guarding every freedman against
the very outrage which the Senator professes to fear. He seemed to be
serious, as he repeated the accusation. But as he had erred with regard
to the restraints upon the Assistant Commissioners, so he erred in the
graver impeachment which he launched here.

The Senator began by saying that the bill, according to its definition
of freedmen, was applicable to all “once slaves,” and that even Robert
Small, the patriot slave who navigated the “Planter” out of Charleston
and gave it to us, would come under its provisions. Very well. Suppose
he does. Can he suffer from it? Does he lose anything by it? Can
anybody under this bill exercise any power or control over Robert
Small? The Senator forgets that the bill assumes that all are free, and
in every respect entitled to all the privileges of freemen,--that they
are invested with every right the Senator himself possesses, and, if
these rights are violated, they may look for a remedy to any court of
justice precisely as he could. None of these rights are infringed. On
the contrary, the officers under the bill are charged to see that the
freedmen are secure in their rights; so that Robert Small himself, if
the occasion required, might find aid and protection under it. The bill
gives no power to take away or limit existing rights; but it provides
additional means for their safeguard, that emancipation may be perfect,
so far as possible.

I do not like to take time, especially when I consider that in opening
this matter to the Senate I explained the character of the bill and
its necessity. I do not pretend that it is perfect; but I beg to
assure the Senate that it is the result of the careful deliberations
of the Committee. If Senators are disposed to criticize it, or to
offer amendments with a view to its improvement, let them do so. But
I trust that they will not allow themselves to be carried into any
general hostility founded on misconception of its real character. I
might remind them again of the large numbers of freedmen--free, thank
God, by legislative and executive acts of the United States, but not
yet introduced into the new condition appointed for them--unemployed,
suffering, starving, and, with a voice of agony, calling for relief.
I might remind them of the inability of private charity, or any
effort organized by private individuals, to meet all the exigencies
of this unprecedented case, although the generosity of our people is
overflowing. I might dwell on the obligation of the nation, reaching
everywhere with its hundred arms, to do what inferior charity must fail
to do; and I might especially show that it is not enough to strike
down the master, but that you must go further, and lift up the slave.
But I forbear, contenting myself with reminding you, that, if you
oppose legislation to help the freedmen in their rough passage from
Slavery to Freedom, you hand over this unhappy people--unhappy for long
generations, and not yet conducted into the full enjoyment of their
rights--to a condition which I dread to contemplate. They look about
and find no home. They seek occupation, but it is not within their
reach. They ask for protection, sometimes against former taskmasters,
and sometimes against other selfish men. If these are not supplied in
some way by the Government, I know not where to look for them. Surely,
Sir, you will not hesitate to provide, so far as you can, carefully
and wisely, the proper means to secure employment for them during the
transition from one condition to another, and, above all, to throw over
them everywhere the ægis of Constitution and Law. And such, permit me
to say, is the single supreme object of the present bill, which has
been so cordially misrepresented by the Senator from West Virginia, and
so strangely misrepresented by my friend from Iowa.

I have said that the object was care and protection for persons
actually free, and so regarded, who, from the peculiarity of their
condition, might not be able in all respects to secure these without
assistance. To this end a central agency is proposed at Washington,
with subordinate agencies where the freedmen are to be found, devoted
to this work of watching over emancipation, so that it may be
surrounded with a congenial atmosphere. Is not the object worthy of
support? Who will question it?

The language of the bill describing the functions of the Commissioner
is plain and explicit; and yet out of this language, so guarded and
so utterly inoffensive, the Senator from Iowa has conjured a phantom
to frighten the Senate from its propriety. Why, Sir, if there were
anything which by possibility could justify the fears of the Senator,
if there were anything which even the most lively imagination could
exaggerate into a lack of care and protection, then I should be the
first to denounce it, and to ask forgiveness for an unconscious
aberration. But there is absolutely nothing; and if you listen to the
bill, you will agree with me.

I begin with the very words which to the Senator from Iowa were so

    “The Commissioner, under the direction of the Secretary of
    the Treasury, shall have the general superintendence of all
    freedmen throughout the several departments.”

Here are duties imposed upon the Commissioner; but there is no power
or control over the freedmen. Calling a man superintendent gives him
no power except in conformity with law; but all the laws, general and
special, are for Freedom. And yet the Senator has repeated, again and
again, that this was a grant of unlimited power and control over the
freedmen. To his mind here was an overflowing fountain of tyranny and

    MR. GRIMES. Will the Senator tell the Senate what is meant by

MR. SUMNER. With great pleasure; and if I can have the candid attention
of my friend, I believe that he and I cannot differ, for I will not
doubt that we have the same object at heart. Obviously the language
indicates in a general way the character of the duties to be performed.
They are duties of superintendence, but we are to look elsewhere for
the extent of the duties; and the words which follow in the same
section show something of their nature. Thus:--

    “And it shall be his duty especially _to watch over_ the
    execution of all laws, proclamations, and military orders of
    emancipation, or in any way concerning freedmen.”

There, Sir, is the first glimpse of this tyrant. Mark, Sir, there is
not one word of power or control over the freedmen, but duties solemnly
imposed, all in behalf of Freedom. What next?

    “And generally, by careful regulations in the spirit of the
    Constitution, _to protect these persons in the enjoyment of
    their rights_, to promote their welfare, and to secure to them
    and their posterity the blessings of liberty.”

Here, again, are duties of the Commissioner; but there is not one
word conferring power or control over the freedmen. The main object is
protection in the enjoyment of their rights,--inborn, but new-found.
This is to be crowned by such watchfulness as will promote their
welfare and secure to them and their posterity the blessings of
liberty; and all this is to be according to “careful regulations.” To
find tyranny in this provision the Senator must be as critical as the
German theologian who found heresy in the Lord’s Prayer. I do not go
to the dictionary for the meaning of superintendent. This is needless.
Obviously, the superintendent must superintend according to law; and
since this is now for Freedom, whatever he does must be for Freedom
likewise. He can do nothing without this inspiration. The function of
superintendence is not applicable exclusively to this case. It is of
common occurrence. There is a superintendent of emigrants; but nobody
supposes that he can do anything with regard to emigrants except in
conformity with law. The mayor of Washington is, in a certain sense,
a superintendent of the Senator and myself, as we walk the streets or
lie down at night in our houses, bound to see that we are protected
from outrage and robbery. And the Vice-President, or the President
of the Senate, is a superintendent of this Chamber, bound to see
that the rules of Parliamentary Law are observed. But the Senator
would not think of attributing to either of these functionaries that
“unlimited control and power” which he dreaded in the superintendent of
freedmen,--bound to see that freedmen are protected in their rights.
And yet it exists in one case just as much as in the other.

I think, Sir, that after this explanation there can be no difficulty
in answering the inquiry of the Senator. By “superintendence of all
freedmen” is meant that watchfulness of their rights and interests
consistent with laws, general and special, for their protection,
welfare, and liberty, so that they may be helped to employment and be
guarded against outrage. The object is good. What other word would
the Senator employ to designate it? How would he describe the humane
function of the Commissioner? He is versed in language. Will he supply
any term more apt? I invite him to do it, and shall gladly accept it.
Since we seem to concur in the object, let there be no difference on
account of words. All I desire is something that shall supply help and
protection. For this I cheerfully sacrifice the rest. And permit me to
say, I have misread this bill, if there is a single word in it, from
beginning to end, which can give the most remote apology for any other

I have thus far only glanced at a single section. Look further. I
pass for the moment the next section, and go to the sixth, which
describes some of the duties of the “Assistant Commissioners and local
superintendents.” It begins by declaring that they--

    “Shall act as _advisory guardians to aid_ the freedmen in
    the adjustment of their wages, or, where they have rented
    plantations or small holdings, in the application of their

Observe, if you please, the friendly service to be performed. Not in
this way do tyrants or slave-masters wield a wicked power. Here is
advice, guardianship, and the adjustment of wages,--all inconsistent
with Slavery in any of its pretensions. What next?

    “That they shall take care that the freedmen do not suffer
    from ill-treatment or any failure of contract on the part of
    others, and that on their part they perform their duty under
    any contract entered into by them.”

Mark, again, the friendly service. Here is another duty cast upon
these officers.

    MR. GRIMES. How is that to be enforced? Suppose they will not
    work,--will not fulfil their contracts?

MR. SUMNER. The duty of these officers is “advisory.” They are not
invested with power to enforce any provisions, unless by court of law
or some other tribunal. The freedmen are entitled to all the rights of
freemen, just as much as the Senator. Curiously, the Senator does not
seem to have purged his mind of the idea that these men, in some way or
other, have not yet ceased to be slaves,--

    MR. GRIMES. No.

--an assumption which, however natural in the Senator from West
Virginia, is not natural in my friend from Iowa. Let him recognize them
as free, like himself, and he will see that there is no remedy open to
him which is not open to them, and that any outrage upon them is, in
point of law, the same as if inflicted upon himself.

    MR. HARLAN. I desire to ask the Senator if there are courts of
    law in existence in these Rebel States before whom the parties
    may appear.

MR. SUMNER. I am afraid that courts of justice in those States are not
yet in perfect operation. But such as they are, they will be open to
every freedman. On this point there can be no question.

The next words show what shall be done by these officers to promote the
administration of justice:--

    “They shall further do what they can as _arbitrators_ to
    reconcile and settle any differences in which freedmen may be
    involved, whether among themselves or between themselves and
    other persons.”

Here is the duty of arbitrator and peacemaker, but no power or control.
And this duty is applicable to differences of all kinds, where the
freedmen are parties. Nothing can be more humane or less tyrannical.
This is not all.

    “In case such differences are carried before any tribunal,
    civil or military, they shall appear as next friends of the
    freedmen, so far as to see that the case is fairly stated and
    heard. And in all such proceedings there shall be no disability
    or exclusion on account of color.”

If not “arbitrators,” then the officers are to be “next friends,”
to aid the freedmen in any litigation into which they may be drawn.
Very little tyranny here. And this service is to be rendered in any
tribunal, “civil or military”; so that, where the civil courts are
closed, the freedmen may obtain justice in any military tribunal. But
whether in a civil or military tribunal, there is to be no disability
or exclusion on account of color. When we consider how this disability
and exclusion have been the badge of Slavery and its pretensions, we
may find in their positive prohibition a new token of the spirit in
which this bill is conceived. Very little tyranny here.

    MR. GRIMES. But, Mr. President, the case that was put by me
    was not where there was a controversy between the colored man
    and some third party, but where the Commissioner attempted to
    enforce the obligation of duty upon the colored man.… Now I
    want to know of the Senator if a Commissioner who undertakes to
    carry out the provisions of this bill may not, under the third
    section, avail himself of the military authority that may be
    in the department to enforce obedience,--and if he thinks it
    would be doing justice to the colored men in the department
    to leave them to the military control of the Commissioner, of
    whom we know nothing, and about whom we do not know whether he
    sympathises with the colored man or not. Is it right to leave
    these colored men to the military control of this Commissioner
    in order to enforce the obligation to labor?

MR. SUMNER. The Senator calls attention to another section, where it
is provided that “the military commander within any department shall,
on the application of the Assistant Commissioner thereof, supply
all needful military support in the discharge of the duties of such
Assistant Commissioner”; and he inquires if this does not authorize the
Assistant Commissioner to use military power in making freedmen work.
Let me say at once that the criticism of the Senator is absolutely
novel. If the clause to which he refers could be employed to any such
purpose, I beg to assure him it was not anticipated by the Committee.
It was intended for a very different purpose, and in the interest of
the freedman. Here, again, I remind the Senator that nothing can be
done by any officer, military or civil, toward a freedman, which cannot
be done toward any other citizen. If this military power can be used
against one, it can be equally used against the other. The occasion
for this power seemed obvious. It was supposed that in the Rebel
States there might be exposed districts where the plantations would be
subject to incursion or ravage from the enemy, by which labor would be
obstructed or disturbed, unless military protection were at hand. To
remedy evils of that character this provision was introduced. Such is
the object sought to be accomplished. It is protection, in the spirit
of the whole bill, and nothing else. If by any possibility there can
be the chance of an abuse of this power, beyond what is incident to
every trust, I shall be glad to take advantage of the criticism of the
Senator, and amend the bill so that the evil he snuffs afar shall not
be permitted to arrive.

The Senator cannot bear the thought of freedmen exposed to the tyranny
of military power. But does he not forget that at this moment they are
subject to this tyranny? It is to remove them from all this arbitrary
control and uncertain protection that we establish a bureau, which
shall be an agency of the civil power, charged to surround the freedmen
with every safeguard the Constitution and laws can supply. Show me any
provision in one or the other for the protection of human rights, and I
claim it at once for the freedman against any oppressor, whatever his
office or name.

Let the Senator bear these things in mind, and give us the advantage of
his counsels. I shall welcome from him any suggestion, any proposition,
any criticism, calculated to promote the object of the bill. The more
he makes, the better. Let him be no niggard. But I trust he will pardon
me, if I complain of inconsiderate assault, which, as it seems to me,
can have no other effect than to injure the cause.

I have not done with the criticism of the Senator. It was on the
fifth section, concerning the labor on abandoned plantations, that he
bent his chief force. In the provisions of that section he found a new
system of Slavery: sometimes it was Slavery outright, and sometimes
it was Peon Slavery. Senators who did me the honor of listening to my
remarks at the beginning of this debate will remember how I dwelt upon
the importance of guarding against any revival of Slavery under any
other name, whether of apprenticeship or adscription to the soil; and
they may remember, perhaps, how I explained the impossibility of any
such occurrence under the present bill, and showed that the freedman
was guarded at all points. And yet, in the face of this exposition,
and of the positive text,--better than any exposition,--the cry is
sounded, that the liberty of the freedman is in danger. The Senator
read this section at length, and then sounded again particular clauses
and phrases, striving to interpret them for Slavery. I will not read it
at length; nor will I dwell on the first part of the section. Suffice
it to say, that, so far as it describes the lands to be taken for
occupation, it follows substantially the text of the order from the War
Department, by which “all houses, tenements, lands, and plantations,
except such as may be required for military purposes, which have
been or may be deserted and abandoned by insurgents within the lines
of the military occupation,” are placed under the supervision and
control of the supervising special agents of the Treasury Department.
Under this order the Secretary of the Treasury has been acting for
several months,--doing with these lands precisely what the Senator so
vehemently condemns. The present bill, so far as concerns the power of
the Commissioner over the lands, does little more than reduce the order
of the War Department to the text of a statute, thus imparting to it a
certain legality which it does not now possess.

Passing from the lands to be occupied under the bill, the Senator
next pictures the terrible fate of the freedmen laboring on these
lands in pursuance of careful contracts. There seems no limit to the
Senator’s anxiety lest they should be bound in Slavery. I welcome his
generous solicitude. But I pray that he will not allow it to mislead
his judgment or prevent him from seeing the case in its true character.
Surely he must be unduly excited, or he could not find danger in these

    “In case no proper lessees can be found, then to cause the same
    to be cultivated or occupied by the freedmen, on such terms, in
    either case, and under such regulations, as the Commissioner
    may determine.”

“What a frightful power!” exclaimed the Senator. But why? Here is no
power or control over the freedmen, but simply over the lands, which
the officers cause to be cultivated or occupied. These officers are
representatives of the National Government, to which the lands belong
for the time being, and, in determining the terms and regulations
under which they are to be cultivated or occupied, they do no more
than is done by the Senator with regard to the lands he is so happy
in owning. The Senator fixes the terms and regulations under which
his lands are leased or cultivated: does he not? And he would be
surprised, if any person called in question his rights in this regard;
especially would he be surprised, if any person undertook to infer that
the freedom of laborers upon his lands could be compromised by any
terms or regulations he might choose to make. But there is no power
he may exercise over his own lands that may not now be exercised by
the Government. In each case the laborer must be treated as a freeman.
The Senator seems to imagine that there is power or control over the
freedmen conferred by these words. Here is his mistake. The power and
control are over the lands, not over the freedmen. There is not a word
in the clause that can be tortured into any such idea. I challenge the
Senator to point it out.

Thus far I have considered this clause, which according to the Senator
is so terribly pregnant, without alluding to the express limitation
following in the same section. Even without this limitation it is clear
and blameless. But the Committee, in order to make assurance doubly
sure, and to set up an absolute impediment against any abuse, have
added the following proviso:--

    “_Provided_, That no freedmen shall be held to service on any
    estate above mentioned otherwise than according to voluntary
    contract, reduced to writing, and certified by the Assistant
    Commissioner or local superintendent; nor shall any such
    contract be for a longer period than twelve months.”

And yet, in the face of this proviso, the Senator sees danger. Nobody
can be found on the lands except in pursuance of voluntary contract,
which must be reduced to writing and certified by an officer of the
Government. Nor is this all. The contract is not to be for a term
beyond twelve months; so that, by no excuse, and by no exercise of
power, can the freedman be put even under a shadow of control beyond
this brief term. He is in all respects a freeman, laboring on lands
according to careful contract for a limited period. And yet the Senator
calls this beneficent arrangement Slavery, and then, changing the name,
he calls it Peonage. Sir, the Senator has an imperfect conception of
that peonage which is indefinite service, or of that slavery which is
service for endless generations, if he undertakes to liken employment
in pursuance of contract most carefully guarded for a term of a few
months to either of these wretched conditions.

But all this is only part of the mistake in which the Senator has
proceeded from beginning to end. I am at a loss to account for it.
I do not understand it. That I regret it most sincerely I need not
say. I counted upon his charitable regard for this bill. I felt sure
of his sympathy with its general objects. I do not renounce the hope
of this sympathy now. But I cannot forbear saying, that, to my mind,
the Senator throws himself in the way of a humane undertaking, and
practically abandons the claims of the oppressed race to which he
and I both owe service. Long have they suffered, much have they been
abused, wearily have they journeyed through life; and now, at last,
when Slavery is overturned, and we seek to provide a passage from
its torments to a better condition, where labor shall be quickened
and protected by Liberty, and where all rights shall be respected,
it is hard to find our efforts buffeted by a cross-wind from such an
unexpected quarter.

    Mr. Grimes and Mr. Willey followed. Between the latter and Mr.
    Sumner there was an earnest passage.

    June 27th, the consideration of the bill was again resumed,
    when other amendments moved by Mr. Sumner were adopted, among
    which was the following:--

        “And every such freedman shall be treated in every respect
        as a freeman, with all proper remedies in courts of
        justice; and no power or control shall be exercised with
        regard to him, except in conformity with law.”

    Several Senators spoke.

       *       *       *       *       *

    June 28th, Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, moved to strike out
    “Treasury” and insert “War.” Mr. Sumner again explained the
    preference of the Committee at length, when Mr. Wilson withdrew
    his motion; but it was afterwards renewed by Mr. Reverdy
    Johnson, of Maryland, and rejected,--Yeas 15, Nays 20. Other
    motions ensued, with speeches. The substitute of the Committee
    having been adopted, the bill was then passed,--Yeas 21, Nays
    9,--with the title, “An Act to establish a Bureau of Freedmen.”

    July 2d, in the House of Representatives, Mr. Eliot, from the
    Select Committee on Emancipation, moved that the House should
    not concur with the substitute of the Senate, when, on motion
    of Mr. Griswold, the whole subject was postponed to December

       *       *       *       *       *

    December 20, 1864, in the House of Representatives, the bill
    being under consideration, according to the postponement from
    the last session, Mr. Eliot, of Massachusetts, Mr. Kelley,
    of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Noble, of Ohio, were appointed a
    Committee of Conference. The Senate agreed to the Conference,
    and Mr. Sumner, Mr. Howard, of Michigan, and Mr. Buckalew,
    of Pennsylvania, were appointed on the part of the Senate. A
    new bill was reported. Instead of attaching the bureau to the
    War Department or to the Treasury Department, an independent
    department was created, called a Department of Freedmen and
    Abandoned Lands; but in other respects it was substantially the
    Senate bill.

    February 9, 1865, after debate, the report of the Committee was
    adopted by the House,--Yeas 64, Nays 62.

    February 10th, Mr. Sumner, on the part of the Committee,
    reported the new bill to the Senate, and on the 13th, in answer
    to inquiry, explained it as follows.

Mr. PRESIDENT,--I trust that there will be no opposition to this most
important, and, as I solemnly believe, most beneficent measure. But I
shall be happy to make any explanation with regard to it.

Senators have not forgotten the bill to create a Bureau of Freedmen,
which, after careful debate for several days, was passed by the Senate
at the close of the last session as a substitute for a House bill. For
some time the difference between the two Houses has been under the
consideration of a Conference Committee, whose report is now before
you. This report embodies substantially the Senate bill, including
various propositions moved by different Senators,--among others, that
relating to the forfeiture of estates, moved by the Senator from
Illinois, [Mr. TRUMBULL],--that relating to the care of freedmen
unemployed on the lands, moved by the Senator from West Virginia [Mr.
WILLEY],--and that relating to trials by courts-martial, moved by the
Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. DOOLITTLE]. All of the Senate bill, in
substance, and generally in language, is preserved, with one single
exception. By the Senate bill a bureau was created in the Treasury.
The Committee of the two Houses unite in recommending a separate
department, holding directly under the President, and therefore free
from the control of either the Treasury or the War.

In point of fact, the only substantial difference between the two
Houses was on the place where the bureau should be. Each was for a
bureau; but one was for it in the Treasury, and the other was for it
in the Department of War; and there were strong arguments in favor
of each. There were also strong feelings against each. Sometimes it
was compendiously said that the freedmen could not be trusted to “the
harpies of the Treasury”; and then again it was said, with equal point,
that they could not be trusted to “the bloodhounds of the War.” These
were exaggerations of opposite opinions; but they serve to disclose the
irreconcilable discord on the subject.

If the freedmen could have been provided for without reference to
the lands, the question would have been relieved from much of its
embarrassment. But it was the conviction of the Committee, in which
they were sustained by all most familiar with the matter, that the care
of the freedmen and the care of the abandoned lands ought to be in the
same hands, and that they could not be separated without exposing the
freedmen to the mischiefs of two conflicting jurisdictions. But the War
Office was not adapted to manage the lands, as many insisted that the
Treasury was not adapted to manage the freedmen.

There was another consideration not without influence. It was felt
that each of these great departments of the Government was already so
severely burdened, so weighed down with manifold duties, that it was
hardly in condition to assume a new trust, so grave and onerous as that

For such reasons, Sir, and yielding to such influences, the Committee,
after careful and conscientious deliberation, determined to recommend
a new department, not unlike that of Agriculture, which should not
be subject either to the Treasury or to the War. It was felt that in
doing this they were doing the best for the cause, and they were not
insensible also to the consideration that in this way they might secure
a higher order of talent and of character for the service. Men fitted
for Treasury agents or fitted for War might not always be the best
for the care of freedmen. The man for this humane service should be
humane by nature, and should sympathize especially with the race so
long neglected and outraged. They must be versed, if I may so express
myself, in the humanities of the subject.

    After quoting the testimony of experts in favor of an
    independent department, and of changing the actual system, he

Such is the system that now exists, under which the freedman is the
mere accident of the Treasury. Sir, it is unworthy of the Republic at
this great period of our history.

Already the President, by irrepealable proclamation, has declared all
slaves free. An Amendment to the Constitution will, in the course of
a few weeks, place their freedom under the sanction of Constitutional
Law. But this is not enough. The debt of justice will not be paid, if
we do not take them by the hand in their passage from the house of
bondage to the house of freedom: and this is what is proposed by the
present measure. The temporary care of the freedman is the complement
of Emancipation; but the general welfare is involved in the performance
of this duty. Without it Emancipation may for a while seem at fault,
and the general welfare gravely suffer.

    February 14th and 21st, the consideration of the report was
    continued,--Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, Mr. Hendricks, Mr. Grimes,
    and Mr. Sprague, of Rhode Island, speaking against it. In reply
    to Mr. Grimes, who moved the postponement of its consideration,
    Mr. Sumner again vindicated the measure.

I hope there will be no postponement. A motion to postpone at the
present time is a motion to kill, and such is the unquestionable object
of the Senator from Iowa [Mr. GRIMES]. He is against the bill now,
just as he was at the beginning, and is acting according to his sense
of duty, when he tries in every way to defeat it. But are Senators
whose votes have thus far shown a determination to do something for the
freedmen ready to follow his example?

The Senator says he wishes time. Well. But he wishes something more.
He wishes to arrest this legislation now at its latest stage. He says
that he desires opportunity for debate. But, Sir, has he not had this
opportunity in largest measure and to excess? The Senate cannot forget
how carefully and conscientiously this question has been considered:
first, in a Committee of this body, who gave their best attention to
it for weeks, during the last session of Congress; then for five days
and two evenings in the Senate, during which the Senator signalized his
opposition; then again in a Conference Committee, the present session,
where the whole subject was most thoroughly studied in every possible
light; and now in this debate, running over several days, which has
already occupied the Senate since the report of that Committee. Surely,
if the Senator is not satisfied with the labors of the Committees of
this body, he cannot complain that opportunity of debate has been
wanting. Sir, he has had the opportunity, and has exercised it.

I am pained by this opposition. It is out of season. I am pained by
it especially from the Senator from Iowa. I do not judge him. But he
will pardon me, if I say that from the beginning he has shown a strange
insensibility to this cause. He is for Liberty, but he will not help
us assure it to those who have for generations been despoiled of it.
Sir, I am in earnest. Seriously, religiously, I accept Emancipation as
proclaimed by the President, and now, by the votes of both Houses of
Congress, placed under the sanction of Constitutional Law. But even
Emancipation is not enough. You must see to it that it is not nullified
or evaded; and you must see to it especially that the new-made freedmen
are protected in the rights now assured to them, and that they are
saved from the prevailing caste, which menaces Slavery under some new
form; and this is the object of the present measure.

Would you know the perils of freedmen ever since Emancipation? Listen,
then, to the words of that true patriot, General Wadsworth, of New
York, who, after his visit to the Valley of the Mississippi, and
personal observation of the freedmen there, testified:--

    “There is one thing that must be taken into account, and that
    is, that there will exist a very strong disposition among the
    masters to control these people and keep them as a subordinate
    and subjected class. Undoubtedly they intend to do that. I
    think the tendency to establish a system of serfdom is the
    great danger to be guarded against. I talked with a planter in
    the La Fourche district, near Thibodeauville. He said he was
    not in favor of secession; he avowed his hope and expectation
    that Slavery would be restored there in some form. I said, ‘If
    we went away and left these people now, do you suppose you
    could reduce them again to slavery?’ He laughed to scorn the
    idea that they could not. ‘What!’ said I, ‘these men who have
    had arms in their hands?’ ‘Yes,’ he said; ‘we should take the
    arms away from them, of course.’”[356]

But this emphatic attestation is simply in harmony with accumulated
testimony from other quarters. The freedmen, rejoicing in recovered
rights, must for a while be saved from the traditional harshness and
cruelty to which for generations they have been exposed. Call it
protection,--call it what you will: the power of the Government must be
to them a shield. And yet you hesitate.

The Senator from Iowa renews the objections he made at an earlier
stage. It will not be forgotten that he most earnestly protested
against the bill, as giving to persons a control of the freedman. It
was shown, I think, to demonstration, that he was mistaken. But, out
of deference to his sensibilities, and that nothing might seem to
be wanting, other safeguards were introduced, as amendments, on his
motion, or in pursuance of his suggestions. But all this is not enough
to secure his favor. He objects still.

Very well. So far as I understand his objection then and now, it is
twofold: first, that the freedman is placed under constraint, and that
he is not a freeman; and, secondly, that he is treated too much as an
infant or a pupil. Now I undertake to say that the objection, in both
these forms, is absolutely inapplicable.

The freedman is treated in every respect as a freeman. Again and
again in the bill his rights are secured to him. Thus, for instance,
in the fourth section, it is expressly provided that “every such
freedman shall be treated in all respects as a free man, with all
proper remedies in courts of justice, and no power or control shall be
exercised with regard to him except in conformity with law.” Language
cannot go further. In face of these positive words, so completely
in harmony with the whole bill, it is vain to say that the freedman
is not a freeman. Sir, he is a freeman just as much as the Senator
himself, with a title derived from the Almighty, which no person can
assail. When the Senator finds danger to the freedman, he consults his
imagination, inflamed by hostile sentiments he has allowed himself to

But the Senator complains that the freedman is treated too much as
an infant or a pupil. How? Where? Let him point out the objectionable
words. Analyze the bill. The freedmen, it is admitted, are under
the general superintendence of the Commissioner. But are we not all
under the general superintendence of the police, to which we may
appeal for protection in case of need? And just such protection the
freedmen may expect from the Commissioner, according to his power. The
Senator himself is under the superintendence of the Presiding Officer
of the Senate, whose duty it is to see that he is protected in his
rights on this floor. But the Presiding Officer can do nothing except
according to law; and the Commissioner is bound by the same inevitable

But there are regulations applicable to the contracts of the freedman.
Very well. Why not? To protect him from the imposition and tyranny of
the dominant race, it is provided that “no freedman shall be employed
on any estate above mentioned otherwise than according to _voluntary
contract_, reduced to writing, and certified by the Assistant
Commissioner or local superintendent.” Mark the language,--“voluntary
contract.” What more can be desired? But this is reduced to writing.
Certainly, as a safeguard to the freedman, and for his benefit. Then,
again, the Assistant Commissioners are to act “as advisory guardians,”
in which capacity they are to “aid the freedmen in the adjustment of
their wages.” But do not forget that the freedman is a freeman, and if
he does not need such aid or advice, he may reject it, just as much as
the Senator himself. Look at other clauses, and they will all be found
equally innocent.

But there is the section, originally introduced on motion of the
Senator from West Virginia [Mr. WILLEY], providing, that, “whenever the
Commissioner cannot otherwise employ any of the freedmen who may come
under his care, he shall, so far as practicable, make provision for
them with humane and suitable persons, at a just compensation for their
services.” Here, again, are tyranny and outrage carried to the highest
point. But how? The superintendence is that of the _intelligence
office_, and everything done is to be “in conformity with law.” This
clause, even if it were in any respect ambiguous, must be ruled by
those earlier words which declare that “every such freedman shall be
treated in all respects as a free man.” What more can be desired? With
this rule as a guide, no freedman can suffer in rights.

The strange complaint is made, that this measure is too favorable
to the freedman; and, indeed, we have been told that something is
needed for the whites. Very well; let it be done. I trust that an
enlightened Government will not fail to recognize its duties to all
alike. Meanwhile, it is proposed that abandoned lands shall be leased
to freedmen, and, if they are not able and disposed to take the lands
for a twelvemonth, then they are to be leased to other persons. Reflect
that the freedmen, for weary generations, have fertilized these lands
with their sweat. The time has come when they should enjoy the results
of their labor, at least for a few months. This war has grown out of
injustice to them. Plainly, to them we owe the first fruits of justice.
Besides, this provision is essential as a safeguard against white
speculators from a distance, who will seek to monopolize these lands,
with little or no regard to the freedman. Ay, Sir, it is too evident
that it is essential as a safeguard against grasping neighbors, who
still pant and throb with the bad passions of Slavery.

Mr. President, the objections are vain. The bill is not hurtful to the
freedman. It is not hostile to Liberty. Its declared object is the good
of the freedman. Its inspiration is Liberty. Look at it as a whole or
in detail, and you will find the same object and the same inspiration.
It only remains that the Senate should adopt it, and give a new
assurance of justice to an oppressed race. In the name of justice, I
ask your votes.

    The motion to postpone was rejected,--Yeas 13, Nays 16.

       *       *       *       *       *

    February 22d, the debate was resumed by Mr. Hale, of New
    Hampshire, in opposition to the report, who was followed on the
    same side by Mr. Lane, of Indiana, Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, and
    Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland. Mr. Conness, of California,
    spoke in favor of it. Mr. Sumner, in reply, after answering
    the criticisms on the bill, and adducing testimony to its
    importance, said:--

I have read these opinions merely to bring home to the Senate, on
authoritative grounds, the importance of providing some protection
for this large body of freedmen, now justly looking to the National
Government as their guardian. That Government has given them the great
boon of Freedom. It is for us to go further, and see that Freedom is
something more than a barren letter. We must see that it is a fruitful
thing, of which they can avail themselves always, and which will be to
them everywhere prolific of good.

Mr. President, I did not intend to enter into this discussion this
morning. I hoped that a vote might be taken without further debate.
I have no desire to discuss it. To my mind the question is perfectly
clear. If you reject the pending measure, you voluntarily refuse to
carry forward that great act of Emancipation which you have already
sanctioned. I say, therefore, for the sake of Emancipation, let the
report of this Committee be adopted; and I appeal to you, Senators, do
not be afraid to be just.

    The vote on the report of the Conference Committee stood,--Yeas
    14, Nays 24; so that, though accepted in the House, it was
    lost in the Senate. On motion of Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts,
    another Conference Committee was ordered, consisting of
    himself, Mr. Harlan, of Iowa, and Mr. Willey, of West Virginia.
    The House, on their part, appointed Mr. Schenck, of Ohio, Mr.
    Boutwell, of Massachusetts, and Mr. Rollins, of Missouri. The
    Committee reported still another bill, placing the bureau in
    the War Department.

    March 3d, the Senate agreed to the report without a division.
    In the House, after an ineffectual effort to lay it on the
    table, it was agreed to without a division, and the same day
    was approved by the President.



    June 10th, Mr. Lane, of Kansas, asked, and by unanimous
    consent obtained, leave to bring in a joint resolution for
    the recognition of the Free State Government of the State of
    Arkansas, which was read, passed to a second reading, and
    ordered to be printed.

    June 13th, he called it up for consideration, when Mr. Sumner
    made the following speech.

MR. PRESIDENT,--I begin by expressing sympathy with every loyal soul in
a Rebel State. Knowing well, from long experience, the cruel rule and
domination of Slavery, even in this Chamber, I cannot be indifferent to
the trials of loyalty anywhere in these latter days. Show me a man who
in a Rebel State stands faithful to the national cause, and I go forth
to meet him with heart in hand. To have been true at a time when truth
was disowned is enough for honor as well as thanks. But the merits of
individuals cannot determine the rights of States.

The case is too important. If individual merits, universally
recognized, could save a State to present rights in the Union,
Tennessee would not now be a self-condemned exile. There are few
anywhere so entirely true as Andrew Johnson, and not one in all the
Rebel States who so bravely encountered the Rebellion face to face.
Ten men might have saved Sodom; but he was in himself more than ten
men. Besides, he was a Senator on this floor, when the State he
represented took its place in the Rebel Confederacy, and joined in
war against the National Government; but he stayed behind with his
country, and kept his seat here. Persons ignorant of Parliamentary
Law have sometimes argued from the latter circumstance that Rebel
Tennessee was still entitled to her ancient rights in the Union; but
they forget two principles, fixed long ago, beyond all question, in
England, the original home of Parliamentary Law: first, that the power
once conferred by an election to Parliament is irrevocable, so that
it is not affected by any subsequent change in the constituency; and,
secondly, that a member, when once chosen, is _member for the whole
kingdom_, becoming thereby, according to the words of an early author,
not merely knight or burgess of the county or borough which elected
him, but knight or burgess of England.[357] If these two principles are
not entirely discarded in our political system, then the seat of Andrew
Johnson was not in any respect affected by the subsequent madness of
his State, nor can the legality of his seat be any argument for the
ancient rights of his State.

Nor, again, can the fact that Andrew Johnson has been selected by
the Convention of a powerful political party as candidate for the
Vice-Presidency be any argument for these ancient rights. It is not
necessary that a candidate for President or Vice-President should
belong to a State. It is enough, under the Constitution, that he is “a
natural born citizen.” He may be of the District of Columbia, or of a
Territory, or of a Rebel State; for these are all equally within the
rightful jurisdiction of the United States, and this is enough. The
national jurisdiction is permanent and indefeasible.

Therefore, I repeat again, we must look beyond the virtues of
individuals. Not all the virtues under heaven can suffice to make a
State of this Union, or establish any claim for restoration to ancient
rights, where there is failure to comply with essential requirements.

       *       *       *       *       *

The question under consideration is of momentous interest. It concerns
primarily the claim to a seat in the Senate; but it includes also the
right of the State of Arkansas to share at this moment in the National
Government by representation in Congress, and also the other right of
participating in the approaching Presidential election. And behind this
great question looms that other, “How shall we treat the Rebel States?”
This has already been answered by the House of Representatives in a
bill passed by that body; but it has not yet been decided by the Senate.

Unexpectedly, the great question and all the subordinate questions are
presented for decision. Not only Arkansas, but Louisiana, and every
other Rebel State, will await your judgment. No question of equal
importance has been presented since it was determined to meet the
Rebellion by arms.

For the present I forbear all minute discussion, either of history
or principle. It will be enough, if I state the case, and exhibit the
questions involved.

William M. Fishback, a citizen of Arkansas, appears before the Senate
of the United States, and claims membership. He asserts that he has
been duly chosen to fill the unexpired term of Senator Sebastian, who
was expelled in 1861 for complicity with the Rebellion; and he produces
a certificate purporting to be signed by the Governor of Arkansas.

Shall this claimant be admitted to a seat in the Senate? Such is the
immediate question. But I have said that there are other questions, of
the highest importance, which must be considered now and here; for they
all enter into the present case. Admitting the claimant, we must also
admit that other claimant who has appeared with like credentials as
colleague. The question is not, therefore, Shall Arkansas have one vote
in the Senate? but, Shall it have two?

Then, again, if Arkansas is fully represented in the Senate, does it
not follow that it is to be represented to the same extent in the
other House? If represented in that Chamber, such representation must
be under the existing Apportionment Act, assigning to Arkansas two
Representatives, chosen by districts, without reference to the number
of votes polled in either.

One privilege draws after it another. To him that hath shall be given.
If Arkansas is admitted to immediate representation in the National
Government, this Rebel State, which has overthrown the Constitution
within its borders, and assumed the front of war, can participate in
the approaching election of President and Vice-President by organizing
an electoral college, and, in case the election of either of those
great officers should devolve upon Congress, can give a vote affecting
the result as weighty as that of Massachusetts, New York, or Illinois;
for, in such case, the vote, which in the Senate is _per capita_, is in
the House by States.

Therefore, Sir, I repeat, the decision of the question before us
rules all the questions that can arise upon the representation of
Arkansas in the Congress of the United States, and also the other
question of the participation of Arkansas in the election of President
and Vice-President for the term of four years next ensuing. The
importance of such a subject cannot be exaggerated. It is important
constitutionally, important practically, important also to the peace of
the country. It ought to be discussed fully and carefully, especially
when it is considered that we are on the eve of a Presidential election
which may possibly be affected by our decision.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, I am against the admission of Arkansas to representation
in the National Government _at this time and under existing
circumstances_. There may be a time, and there may be circumstances,
when such representation will be proper; but clearly at this moment it
is improper, unreasonable, and dangerous. The reasons are obvious.

_First._ The proposed representation is that of a _minority_, not
only of the people, but even of the ancient voters of Arkansas. It
is superfluous to say that such representation is inconsistent with
republican principles, and can be vindicated only by overruling
necessity. But this point becomes of peculiar importance, when it is
considered that the minority asking representation has acquiesced
in rebellion, and, still further, that some of those composing the
minority have actively assisted the public enemy. Look at the facts.

The authority and jurisdiction of the United States were wholly
overthrown and subverted in Arkansas. By action of the State
Legislature, and of a Convention called by this Legislature, followed
by a popular vote, the State was made _de facto_ a member of the Rebel
Confederacy. However much we may deny the rightfulness or the legality
of the proceeding, there is no question with regard to the fact. This
at least is undeniable, and constitutes an essential ingredient in
the case. As a fact it must be recognized, whatever the consequences,
precisely as truth is recognized. But this unquestionable fact was
followed by a general acquiescence of the people of Arkansas; so that
this State became in fact, as in name, a Rebel State, linked with other
Rebel States arrayed in arms against the National Government.

At last, after much bloodshed and various vicissitudes, through the
exertion of the military power of the United States, a portion of the
territory of this State has been rescued from Rebel domination, and
brought within the lines of our army. The rest will follow, in process
of time, and after further bloodshed, until eventually the whole State
will be rescued from Rebel domination, and brought within the lines of
our army. Even then we shall be obliged to wait for tokens of returning
loyalty also. But at the present moment the possession of the State is
still contested by opposing forces, and a minority only has signified
adhesion or re-adhesion to the National Government. This objection, of
course, may be removed by time; but it existed in full force at the
election of the claimant, and is decisive upon the question before us.

Unquestionably, it is according to the genius of our Government
that the _majority_ should rule. A majority is the natural base
of a republic. To found a republic on a minority is scarcely less
impracticable than to stand a pyramid on its apex.

_Secondly._ The proposed representation of Arkansas in the Senate
is unjust and inequitable in relation to the representation of the
loyal States; and if extended to representation in the House of
Representatives and in the Electoral Colleges, it becomes still more
unjust and inequitable. By the original terms of union, the other
States have agreed that _the whole people_ of Arkansas shall have two
Senators, and Representatives according to a fixed proportion,--and
also electoral votes for President and Vice-President according to the
number of Senators and Representatives. Now it would be manifestly
wrong toward all the loyal States, if not a fraud upon their rights,
to assign such representation and such privilege to a _fraction_ of
the people of Arkansas, constituting a small minority, so that, on
all questions of legislation, of treaties, or of appointments, in the
discharge of legislative, diplomatic, and executive trusts, this small
minority would wield in the Senate all the power of a loyal State,
while in the choice of President and Vice-President it might turn the

_Thirdly._ The military occupation of Arkansas, and the unsettled
condition of the community there, cannot be forgotten, when we are
considering whether to admit the representatives of a newly organized
_civil government_ in that State. Military occupation is practically
inconsistent with civil government. Even if the former does not
absolutely exclude the latter, yet it is evident that it must exercise
a controlling influence. It is impossible in time of war to preserve
the conditions of peace,--especially in time of civil war. Military
power, when engaged in subduing rebellion, cannot be insensible to
political forces. It must win what it cannot overcome. From the nature
of the case, ordinary political conditions are disturbed or subverted,
and electoral power loses its essential character, so as to be no
longer entitled to that peculiar respect which it enjoys under American
institutions. These observations I apply solely to a theatre of war;
and I insist, that, so applied, they are true, just, and indisputable.

But, in point of fact, there is another and kindred force, which
conspires with the former to disturb suffrage in Arkansas: I mean that
proceeding from incursions and hostile operations of the enemy. These
prevent elections in some parts of the State, and render them partial
in others; and this unhappy condition must continue so long as war
prevails there. That I do not exaggerate these perils, let me quote the
testimony of General Gantt, a citizen of Arkansas, who participated in
the recent election. “Thousands,” says he, “when they started to the
polls in the morning, felt that at nightfall, when they returned, it
might be to a mass of charred and smoking ruins and to a beggared and
impoverished family; and yet other thousands knew that the knife of the
murderous crew of Shelby, Marmaduke, and others was whetted for their
throats, and might do their execution before the polls were reached;
and all knew, that, should the tide of war surge backward over our
State, instead of being simply ordered out of the lines, bankruptcy,
dungeons, chains, and an ignominious death awaited them.” This picture,
which is unquestionably authentic, while it interests us for the heroic
sufferers, testifies conclusively how incapable Arkansas is at this
moment to bear the burdens and discharge the trusts of a State.

_Fourthly._ The present organization in Arkansas, seeking
representation on this floor, is without that _legality of origin_
required by the American system of government. It is revolutionary
in character. Nay, more, it may all be traced to _a military order_.
Clearly, this incongruity will not be tolerated. _A new civil
government_, to be recognized as a State of this Union, _cannot be born
of military power_. Congress has jurisdiction over all those States in
which loyal governments have been overturned; and this jurisdiction
furnishes a natural, obvious, and constitutional origin for the new
government. Without it, I am at a loss to see how _the connecting link
of legality_ can be preserved between the old and the new. This is not
the first time in our national history that Congress has stood between
the old and the new. Such is its natural place and function. At the
separation of the Colonies from the mother country, it interfered by
formal resolution to indicate the process by which the new governments
should be constituted, although the Tories of that day doubted the
power. According to this example, sustained by congenial principles,
Congress must now set the new government in motion, and infuse into it
the vital force found in liberty regulated by law.

_Fifthly._ Arkansas is at this moment shut out from _commercial
intercourse_ with the loyal States, under the Proclamation of the
President of 16th August, 1861, in pursuance of the Act of Congress
of 13th July, 1861. By this Proclamation it is placed on the list of
States declared in “insurrection against the United States; and all
commercial intercourse between the same and the inhabitants thereof
and the citizens of other States and other parts of the United States
is unlawful, and will remain unlawful until such insurrection shall
cease or has been suppressed”; and all goods, chattels, wares, and
merchandise, coming from any of the enumerated States and proceeding to
any other State by land or water, are made liable to forfeiture.[358]
And yet Arkansas, while still under the ban of a Presidential
proclamation and a Congressional statute establishing non-intercourse
with other States, asks representation in the National Government.
Disqualified for trade with other States, it asks to govern them. The
old practice is to be reversed. Thus far in history trade has preceded
political power; now political power is to precede trade. Arkansas
cannot send her merchants into the loyal States to buy and sell. Can
she send representatives into this Chamber to vote? Can she send
electors into the Electoral College to choose a President?

Such, Mr. President, are five distinct reasons, obvious to the most
superficial observer, against recognizing any representation from
Arkansas at this time: first, because the representation is founded
on a minority; secondly, because any such representation, unjust in
itself, is especially unjust toward the loyal States; thirdly, because
the military occupation of Arkansas, and its exposed condition, are
inconsistent with civil government; fourthly, because the present
organization of Arkansas is without that legality of origin required
by American institutions; and, fifthly, because it is absurd to admit
a State to representation which is still, by solemn proclamation, shut
out from commercial intercourse with the loyal States.

The argument thus far applies to the present case, without touching
that other question, sometimes discussed, whether, in point of fact,
Arkansas is still a State of the Union. Evidently, Arkansas may have
preserved her place in the Union, and yet not be entitled at this
moment to representation. She may be a State, but in a condition of
political syncope or suspended animation. Or she may be under such
abnormal influences as to render her, for the time being, incompetent
to perform the functions of a State.

But if Arkansas, by reason of her Ordinance of Secession, and open
participation in the war against us, has lost a place in the Union, it
is manifest that the Senate cannot now admit the claimant to a seat
as one of its members; nor can it admit him at all, until Congress,
by joint vote, has restored the State to its original position. The
power to admit States into this Union, and, by consequence, the power
to _readmit_ them, are vested in Congress, to be exerted by joint
resolution or act, with the concurrence of both Chambers and the
approval of the President. Here I content myself with a statement. For
the present I waive all consideration of the _status_ of the seceded
States. The argument is complete without it.

It is my desire to present this case on the facts, and not on any
theory or hypothesis. I say nothing, therefore, on the question, what
constitutes a State government in this Union; whether a State, by a
process of suicide, may not cease to exist; whether a State may not
by forfeiture lose its rights as a State; or whether, when the loyal
government is overthrown, a State does not lapse into the condition
of a Territory under Congressional jurisdiction, to be treated like
other national territory. All these questions I put aside. I choose to
present the case of Arkansas on facts which nobody can question.

It is enough that the loyal authorities were overthrown, and there
were no functionaries holding office under the State government bound
by oath to support the Constitution of the United States; and since a
State government is necessarily composed of such functionaries thus
bound by oath, there was no State government we could recognize. Sir,
does any Senator recognize the Rebel governor of Arkansas? Does any
Senator recognize the Rebel functionaries who held the offices of the
State? Of course not. It follows, then, that the offices were empty.
And this was the practical conclusion of Andrew Johnson, when he began
to reorganize Tennessee, in an address as early as 18th March, 1862.
Here are his words:--

    “I find most, if not all, of the offices, both State and
    Federal, _vacated_, either by actual abandonment or by the
    action of the incumbents, in attempting to subordinate their
    functions to a power in hostility to the fundamental law of the
    State and subversive of her national allegiance.”[359]

If the offices were vacated, the machine of government could not work.
And now the practical question is, how this machine shall be again
put in motion. Obviously, not by any power within, but by some power

It may be said that the new State organization is authorized by
the President’s proclamation of amnesty, and that the claimant’s
case stands good according to the promises of this exceptional
paper. A glance is enough to dispel this pretension. True it is
that the President put forward a plan for reorganizing loyal State
governments in the Rebel territory, and he proffered a guaranty to
these communities against domestic violence and Rebel invasion; but
he neither proposed nor promised any representation in Congress or in
the Electoral College. Nor would such a proposition or promise by him
have possessed the slightest validity; because, by the Constitution,
“each House is to be the judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its own members.” This provision is inconsistent
with any prerogative of the President over this question, even if such
prerogative were not controlled by that other provision which reserves
to Congress the power to admit new States into the Union.

The Proclamation declared, that, whenever, in any of the States of
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia,
Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not
less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such State at the
Presidential election of 1860, each having taken the particular oath
prescribed by the Proclamation, and not having since violated it, and
being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing
immediately before its secession, and excluding all others, should
_reëstablish_ a State government which should be republican, and in no
wise contravening the Proclamation oath, it should be recognized as
the true government of the State, which should receive thereunder the
benefits of the constitutional provision that “the United States shall
guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government.”
Subsequently, in the same paper, the President declares “that whether
members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats
constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not
to any extent with the Executive.” Nothing is said on the participation
of such reorganized State in the approaching Presidential election; and
the question seems left open for the judgment of Congress, to which it
obviously belongs, to be settled by joint action.

It is plain, therefore, that the reorganization contemplated by
the President was in nature provisional. It was not complete or
permanent, but evidently looked to the action of the legislative power
to determine representation, whether in Congress or in the Electoral
College. Loyal governments might be established in the manner indicated
for the conservation of local order, and these would be recognized and
upheld provisionally by the military power. Considered from this point
of view, and in the absence of Congressional action, the President’s
plan of reconstruction was, to a certain extent, proper, if not
necessary, and very little obnoxious to objections sometimes brought
against it. A handful of persons keeping their loyalty might justly
look to the military power for support against a hostile majority.
Such a handful might be allowed to set up a local government for the
management of local affairs, and to assist the National Government in
the work of restoration. All this is natural. But the limitation is
clear. Admitting it right to authorize the establishment of a local
government for the benefit of a handful of loyal persons in a Rebel
State, it does not by any means follow that such local government
can be entitled to representation in the National Government as a
loyal unit, on an equality with the loyal States of the Union. The
two questions are entirely different, and the latter was wisely left
untouched by the Proclamation.

Besides, the power of the President to institute this government is
only as commander-in-chief of the army. It is therefore military in
character. But what proceeds out of this power is, from the nature of
the case, _provisional or temporary, until it has received the sanction
of Congress_. To a certain extent, and from the necessity of the hour,
military governments may be constituted by the President; but permanent
civil governments, with----

    MR. COLLAMER. To last beyond the war.

MR. SUMNER. As the Senator from Vermont well suggests, “to last beyond
the war,” with right of representation in Congress and in the Electoral
College, cannot be constituted by the President. Such a power would
be open to infinite abuse, and in the hands of an ambitious President
might be employed for selfish purposes. The national safety, in harmony
with republican principles, requires that it should be exercised by
Congress, which must take the lead in calling the new government into

Against these conclusions there can be no argument founded on
principle. But it may be said that the admission of Senators from
Virginia constitutes a precedent. This is a mistake. The Virginia
case is a precedent for nothing, unless it be to make us more careful
for the future. It arose at the beginning of the troubles, before
the relations of the Rebel States had become fixed by pertinacious
war, and was little considered at the time. But, beyond all, it had
this peculiarity,--that a large section, geographically, of Virginia,
had, in fact, declined to recognize the pretension of secession, and
promptly constituted a loyal government without military intervention,
so that practically it had never been part of the Rebel Government. The
circumstances were so exceptional, that this case cannot be cited to
determine our conduct toward a State which in all its parts, throughout
its whole jurisdiction, accepted the pretension of secession, and
maintained it by arms. Such a State is, beyond all question, a Rebel
State, with no title to a place in Congress or in the Electoral
College, until readmitted to its ancient rights by a vote in both
Houses of Congress.

       *       *       *       *       *

The readmission of a Rebel State to representation is not less
important than its original admission into the Union. And when it is
considered that what is done for one such State will be a precedent
for all, its importance is multiplied by the number of Rebel States;
and this again is augmented infinitely by the disturbed condition
of affairs, and the supreme duty to take every precaution for the
restoration of permanent tranquillity. It is not enough, if we comply
with certain forms, or constitute a State in name only. Much more must
be done, and all this must be placed under fixed and irreversible
guaranties. Vain is victory on the battle-field, if these guaranties
are not obtained. To make these possible, our armies are now engaged in
the deadly shock. That the future at least may be secure, the present
is given over to blood and slaughter, to graves and epitaphs. And
here is the difference between your responsibilities and those of the
soldier. The latter sees only the present; but you must see the future
also. The soldier meets the enemy face to face; the statesman, by wise
precautions, provides that the enemy, once conquered, shall never rise
again. Vain is the work of the soldier, if not consummated and crowned
by the wisdom of the statesman.

For years Slavery has been claiming guaranties in States and
Territories, and these chambers have echoed to the hoarse, inhuman
cry. At last another voice begins to prevail, ascending from basement
to cupola, filling chamber and dome with diviner echo: it is the voice
of Freedom claiming guaranties. In the absence of any constitutional
prohibition of Slavery, it is evident that these guaranties can be
obtained only under sanction of Congress in its legislative capacity.
And here we are brought again to the question of representation; for
as it is clear that representation cannot be conceded, until the
guaranties for Freedom have been secured, so it follows, representation
can be obtained only under the sanction of Congress in its legislative

That Congress in its legislative capacity must determine this question
is sustained by the necessity of the case, by reason, by authority, and
by the President’s Proclamation.

1. I have already shown that guaranties for Freedom are _a condition
precedent_ to representation; so that, by the necessity of the case,
the latter must be determined by the joint action of both Houses of
Congress. Such is one form in which this necessity appears. But there
is another.

Congress must have jurisdiction over every portion of the United
States _where there is no other government_; but there can be no other
government in the Rebel States; so that the words of Chief Justice
Marshall are as applicable to a State without a loyal State government
as they were originally to a Territory:--

    “Perhaps the power of governing a Territory belonging to the
    United States, which has not by becoming a State acquired _the
    means of self-government_, may result necessarily from the
    facts that _it is not within the jurisdiction of any particular

The three things here affirmed of a Territory may all be affirmed of a
Rebel State.

_First._ It has not the means of self-government.

_Secondly._ It is not within the jurisdiction of any particular State.

_Thirdly._ It is within the power and jurisdiction of the United States.

From these again ensues the necessity of Congressional jurisdiction.

2. It would be unreasonable, if not absurd, for each Chamber to
determine the question of representation for itself. Suppose, for
instance, the Senate admit claimants from Arkansas, and the House
reject them. Then we should witness the anomaly of a State admitted to
one Chamber and excluded from the other. This would be _semi-admission_
into the Union. Part would be _in_, and part _out_. The Senators and
Representatives of the same State would be compelled to separate, as,
in Grecian mythology, one of the memorable twins, Castor and Pollux,
was translated to Olympus, and the other was left upon earth. The
Constitution does not contemplate the repetition of any such fable.
Arkansas must stay away, until she can be received in _both_ Houses,
and be recognized as a unit, not as a fraction; but no power short of
Congress can assure this equal reception in both Houses.

3. Authority is in harmony with reason. The question seems to have
been anticipated by the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United
States, as pronounced by Chief Justice Taney in the case of _Luther_ v.
_Borden_. Here are the words:--

    “The fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution
    of the United States provides that the United States shall
    guaranty to every State in the Union a republican form of
    government, and shall protect each of them against invasion,
    and, on the application of the Legislature, or of the Executive
    (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic

    “Under this article of the Constitution, it rests with Congress
    to decide what government is the established one in a State.
    For, as the United States guaranty to each State a republican
    government, Congress must necessarily decide what government is
    established in the State, before it can determine whether it is
    republican or not. And when the Senators and Representatives
    of a State are admitted into the councils of the Union, the
    authority of the government under which they are appointed, as
    well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper
    constitutional authority. And its decision is binding on every
    other department of the government, and could not be questioned
    in a judicial tribunal.”[361]

According to these positive words, “it rests with Congress to decide
what government is the established one in a State.” But Congress can
decide only through joint action.

4. The Constitution, also, by positive text, seems to place the
question beyond doubt. There are express words, as we have already
seen, declaring that “the United States shall guaranty to every State
in the Union a republican form of government.” If these words stood
alone, the case would be clear; but it becomes clearer still, when we
revert to the other clause, by which it is provided that “the Congress
shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper
for carrying into execution all powers vested by this Constitution in
the Government of the United States.” Now, since the guaranty is vested
in the Government of the United States, it follows that Congress has
the power for carrying it into execution. In Arkansas a republican
government has been overthrown by rebellion. Congress must see that
such government is restored; and to this end it has all needful power.
Congress, and not the President, must decide when the restoration has
taken place.

5. There is also the President’s Proclamation, which, by its very
terms, necessarily implies the action of Congress. We have, first, the
positive declaration that “whether members sent to Congress from any
State shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively
with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive.”
But the language of the Proclamation and of the accompanying message
plainly assumes that the Rebel States have lost their original
character as States of the Union. Thus in one place the President says
that “the loyal State governments of several States have for a long
time been _subverted_.” But if subverted, they no longer exist. In
another place he proposes to “_reinaugurate_ loyal State governments.”
But a proposition to _reinaugurate_ implies a new start. In another
place he proposes to “_reëstablish_ a State government which shall be
republican.” But we do not _reëstablish_ a government continuing to
exist. In another place he proposes to “_set up_” a State government in
the mode prescribed. But whatever requires to be set up is evidently
down. In another place he considers how to guaranty and protect “a
_revived_ State government.” But we revive only what is dead, or,
at least, faint. There is still another place, where the President
evidently looks to the possibility of a change of name, boundary,
subdivisions, constitution, and general code of laws in the restored
State. These are his identical words: “And it is suggested _as not
improper_, that, in _constructing_ a loyal State government in any
State, _the name of the State_, _the boundary_, the subdivisions, the
constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the Rebellion,
be maintained.” Thus the President does not insist that even the
name and boundary of a State shall be preserved. He contents himself
with suggesting that it will not be “improper” to preserve them “in
_constructing_ a loyal State government.” Of course this suggestion of
what is not improper implies necessarily that in his opinion even these
great changes are within the discretion of the revived community.

I have called especial attention to the language of the President,
because it constantly assumes, in a succession of phrases, that the
Rebel States are in an abnormal condition, from which they are to
be recovered or revived; and since such recovery or revival can be
consummated only by action of Congress, it is reasonable to infer that
such was his expectation. At all events, the Proclamation, by repeated
assumptions with regard to the Rebel States, testifies to the necessity
of Congressional action.

We have already seen that Andrew Johnson declared the State of
Tennessee “vacated” of all local government which we are bound to
respect; and this language obviously harmonizes with that of the
President. But Arkansas was in a similar situation.

Such are some of the arguments for the power of Congress. Others
might be adduced; but I have said enough. The necessity of the case,
reason, the authority of the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the
President’s Proclamation, each and all, tend to the same conclusion,
even without resorting to those war powers which are all within the
reach of Congress. Yet if we glance at the latter, we find the power
of Congress declared beyond question. There is nothing the President
may do as commander-in-chief which Congress may not direct and govern,
according to the authoritative words of Chancellor Kent:--

    “Though the Constitution vests the executive power in the
    President, and declares him to be commander-in-chief of
    the army and navy of the United States, _these powers must
    necessarily be subordinate to the legislative power in

And these powers, vast as they are, when called into activity by the
exigency of war or rebellion, become as constitutional as if specified
precisely in a written text.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, there is a saying of Antiquity applicable to this
question: _Make haste slowly_. Do not fail to make haste; but let your
haste be governed by wisdom and prudence. In making haste, do not
sacrifice all safeguards for the future. In haste to welcome Senators
from Rebel States, do not forget everything else: do not forget the
principles of republican institutions, offended by the rule of a
minority; do not forget the principles of justice among the States,
shocked by admission of the fraction of a Rebel State to equality of
power with loyal States; do not forget the disturbed condition of
the Rebel States, rendering the civil authorities subordinate to the
military; do not forget the necessity of a connecting link of legality
between the old and the new; do not forget that commercial intercourse
must be restored, and every ban of proclamation or statute removed,
before representation can be allowed; and, still further, do not
forget that the Rebel States, by their own acts, sustained by bloody
war, have voluntarily placed themselves outside the pale of political
association, until Congress shall recognize them again entitled to
their original equality; but, above all, do not forget that there can
be no recognition of a Rebel State, until its permanent tranquillity is
assured by irreversible guaranties which no local power can disturb.
Keep these things in mind, and then make haste.

Of course, when within the confines of a State the Rebellion is
triumphantly subdued, and the great body of the people manifest an
unmistakable loyalty,--when local elections are held according to
ordinary municipal forms,--when laws, and not arms, prevail,--and
when a government, republican in fact as in name, making Slavery
forever impossible, under any form or pretence, is permanently
established,--then will Congress, by proper legislative action, rejoice
to welcome the newly constituted State to its equal share in the
National Government. But such welcome must not be precipitate. It can
be offered only after most careful inquiry into the actual condition of
things, and the assured conviction that the Rebel State has been newly
constituted in fact as in name. And this caution is needed, not only
for the good of the Union, but for the good of the State itself, which
must be saved from premature responsibilities beyond the measure of its
present powers.

Sir, it is much to be a State in full fellowship and equality with
other States represented in these two Chambers, with a voice in the
election of President and Vice-President, and with a star on the
national flag. To be admitted into such prerogatives and privileges,
a State must be “above suspicion,” and it must be able to use well
all the great powers belonging to the State. But if a State is not
yet “above suspicion,” and is not strong enough to stand alone, even
against domestic disturbers, it cannot expect immediate recognition. It
must wait yet a little longer, until, restored at last in character and
in strength, it can do all the duties of a State, and with master-hand
grasp that Ulyssean bow which pretenders strive in vain to bend.

Mr. President, I conclude as I began, with my heart’s gratitude to
those brave citizens who again in Arkansas lift the national banner.
Let them not be disheartened. Their country is with them in all their
perils and all their efforts, longing to receive them again into
ancient fellowship and equality; but the time for this welcome has not
yet come. Meanwhile let them remember that “they also serve who only
stand and wait.”

    A debate ensued, in which Mr. Reverdy Johnson replied to Mr.
    Sumner. Mr. Wade moved that the joint resolution lie on the
    table, which was lost,--Yeas 5, Nays 32. On motion of Mr. Lane
    it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, together
    with the credentials of Hon. William M. Fishback and Hon.
    Elisha Baxter. At the same time, on motion of Mr. Sumner,
    his resolution on the conditions of Reconstruction[363] was
    referred to the same Committee.

    June 27th, Mr. Trumbull, from the Committee, reported
    adversely on all these references.



    June 16th, the Tariff Bill being under consideration, and Mr.
    Pomeroy, of Kansas, moving to reduce the duty on railroad iron
    from seventy cents to sixty cents per hundred pounds, Mr.
    Sumner said:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--I am reluctant to think that we are legislating for
a long number of years. Indeed, I regard what we are now doing as
temporary or provisional. It is to meet the exigency of the hour; and
on this account precisely I am ready to follow the Chairman of the
Committee on Finance, in opposing the proposition of the Senator from

Here I repeat, Sir, what I have said very often on this floor since
the Rebellion began, that there is one rule which I always follow, and,
by the blessing of God, will follow to the end. It is this: show me how
I can best contribute to the resources of my country, enabling it to
reach the end we all desire, and I shall vote for it. At this moment
I know no way in which I can contribute more than by adding to the
financial strength. Show me how I can most surely secure means to carry
on the war and obtain its successful close, and I shall vote for it.
If, therefore, by a tax at seventy cents I can promise a larger income
than by a tax at sixty cents, I shall vote for seventy cents. To that
extent I follow the Senator from Maine.

    The amendment was lost,--Yeas 17, Nays 20.



    June 17th, on the Tariff, the question arose of repealing
    the clause exempting from tax “philosophical apparatus and
    instruments imported for the use of any society incorporated
    for philosophical, literary, or religious purposes, or for the
    encouragement of the fine arts, or for the use or by the order
    of any college, academy, school, or seminary of learning,” and
    imposing a duty of twenty per cent _ad valorem_.

    Mr. Sumner said:--

Little money, much mischief: these are two objects that present
themselves. That we shall obtain little money is obvious, when it is
considered that the philosophical apparatus and instruments imported
by colleges and literary institutions, particularly when exposed to
this tax, will be of little value. Twenty per cent on their value
will not be much for the country. The detriment will appear in the
discouragement to their importation. Now, Sir, I would encourage
such importations. I would encourage everything by which these
associations may be benefited. Not only the associations will gain by
such encouragement, but the whole land will reap the advantage. If I
could have my way, I would rather lavish upon them bounties. To my
mind it is clear that the education of our country would be advanced
by stimulating such importations rather than by discouraging them.
But there is no question now of stimulating; the proposition is to
discourage. I hope it will not be imposed.

    The tax was voted in committee,--Yeas 18, Nays 16.

       *       *       *       *       *

    At the next stage of the bill Mr. Sumner renewed his opposition.

I merely wish to make one remark. I would not protract the discussion
at this late hour; but I must say that to my mind the proposition
is not creditable to our country, and, I think, if adopted, will
be mischievous. That is the way it impresses me. I cannot see it
otherwise. It is to me a tax on education, and as such odious to an
extent which I am hardly willing to characterize. Because we are
engaged in war, I find no reason for a tax on education. Tax luxuries,
tax necessaries, tax everything else; but do not tax education. As I
said this morning, if need be, rather give it a bounty.

    The vote in committee was concurred in, and the tax imposed.


BILL, JUNE 24 AND 25, 1864.

    May 2, 1862, Mr. Sumner gave notice that he should, at an early
    day, ask leave to introduce a bill to abolish the coastwise
    traffic in slaves under the flag of the United States; and he
    added, “In giving this notice, I desire to say that there is a
    disgraceful statute which exists unrepealed, and my object is
    to remove it from the statute-book.”

    March 22, 1864, he reported from the Committee on Slavery
    and Freedmen a bill to prohibit commerce in slaves among the
    several States, and the holding or transporting of human
    beings as property in any vessel within the jurisdiction of
    the National Government, which was read and passed to a second
    reading. At the same time he said that he did this as a report
    in part on “a large number of petitions calling upon Congress
    to provide by legislation for the extinction of Slavery.”

    The bill reported was as follows.

        “A Bill to prohibit commerce in slaves among the several
        States, and the holding or transportation of human beings
        as property in any vessel within the jurisdiction of the
        National Government.

        “_Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
        of the United States of America in Congress assembled_,
        That there shall be no commerce in slaves among the several
        States, by land or by water; and any person attempting or
        aiding to transport slaves, as an article of commerce,
        from one State to another State, or any person who shall
        take part in such commerce, either as seller, buyer, or
        agent, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and,
        being convicted thereof before any court having competent
        jurisdiction, shall suffer imprisonment for not more than
        five years, and be fined not exceeding five thousand
        dollars, one half of such fine to go to the informer; and
        every slave so treated as an article of commerce among
        States shall be free.

        “SEC. 2. _And be it further enacted_, That no human being
        shall be held or transported as property in any vessel on
        the high seas, or sailing coastwise, or on any navigable
        waters within the jurisdiction of the United States; and
        every vessel violating the provisions of this act shall be
        forfeited to the United States; and every master of such
        vessel consenting to such violation shall be deemed guilty
        of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof subject to
        the penalties hereinbefore provided, one half of the fine
        to go to the informer; and every human being so held or
        transported as property shall be free.

        “SEC. 3. _And be it further enacted_, That all acts or
        parts of acts inconsistent herewith, including especially
        so much of an act approved March second, one thousand eight
        hundred and seven, as regulates the coastwise slave-trade,
        are hereby repealed.”

    Failing to obtain an opportunity for this bill in the Senate,
    Mr. Sumner determined to move it on an appropriation bill.

    June 24th, the Senate having under consideration the bill
    making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the
    Government, Mr. Sumner moved the following amendment:--

        “_And be it further enacted_, That sections eight and nine
        of the Act entitled ‘An Act to prohibit the importation of
        slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of
        the United States from and after the first day of January,
        in the year of our Lord 1808,’ which sections undertake to
        regulate the coastwise slave-trade, are hereby repealed.”

    Mr. Sherman, who had succeeded Mr. Fessenden as Chairman of
    the Finance Committee, “would not oppose the amendment on an
    ordinary bill,” but he trusted “the Senate would keep this bill
    free from these disputed, extraneous, political questions.”

    Mr. Sumner replied:--

MR. PRESIDENT,--I am sorry that the Senator objects to this amendment.
It is true, his objection is of form; but I venture to say that no such
objection should be made to such a proposition, especially at this
stage of the session.

In moving it now on an appropriation bill, I follow approved
precedents. There is no rule of order against it; nor is there any rule
of usage. On the contrary, it is in conformity with both order and

The Senator wishes to keep the Appropriation Bill free from extraneous
matter. But this is not sufficient reason for excluding my amendment,
unless the Senator is ready, for the sake of form, to sacrifice
substance. If it be important that my amendment should prevail, and
if at this late stage of the session it may be difficult to carry it
otherwise, then am I clearly right in moving it, as I now do, and
the Senator is wrong in opposing it. An appropriation bill is like a
“through train,” and while its special office is to appropriate money,
yet it may carry anything required by the public good.

Why, Sir, there is hardly ever an appropriation bill that is not
compelled to take passengers in this way. It has been so during the
present session repeatedly; and if the Senator will read the “Statutes
at Large,” he will find that the usage has prevailed for years. It is
no new thing. I do not begin it.

If it were necessary to furnish examples, I might point to my friend,
the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. HALE], who gained one of his
proudest triumphs in this Chamber, securing to him the sympathy and
gratitude especially of sailors, by moving on an appropriation bill the
abolition of the lash in the naval and commercial marine of the United
States. Had he been driven to wait a special act for this purpose, I
fear he would have been waiting to this day. And the example of the
Senator has been followed by the Senator from Iowa [Mr. GRIMES], who,
on an appropriation bill, moved and carried the abolition of grog in
the navy.

But I am not without personal experience under this head. I trust that
I shall not take too great a liberty, if I adduce it even in detail.
I was chosen to the Senate for the first time immediately after the
passage of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. If I received from
the people of Massachusetts any special charge, it was to use my best
endeavors to secure the repeal of that act. I began the work in the
first session that I was here. Disappointed in various efforts to bring
the question directly before the Senate on a bill or resolution, I
ventured at last--on the advice of eminent Senators who differed from
me in sentiment, but who appreciated candidly the obligations of my
position--to move the repeal on an appropriation bill. A debate ensued,
which lasted till late in the evening. It may not be uninteresting
to know that on the ayes and noes there were but four votes in the
affirmative,--Mr. Chase, Mr. Hale, Mr. Sumner, and Mr. Wade. This was
26th August, 1852. Such was the weakness of our cause at that time.

But please remark, that, throughout the protracted and sometimes
acrimonious debate, it was never for a moment objected that the
proposition was “not germane to the bill,” or that it was not
completely in order. Had any such thing been tenable, had there been
the least apology for it, had it not been utterly unreasonable, be
assured, Sir, it would have been made the excuse for stifling the
discussion. The two political parties had just made their nomination
for President. Franklin Pierce was the candidate of the Democrats, and
Winfield Scott of the Whigs. Both had united on platforms declaring the
Compromise measures, including the Fugitive Slave Act, “a finality” not
to be opened or discussed. But they were opened and discussed on that

Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, was at the time Chairman of the Committee
on Finance. He was in many respects a remarkable person, with a mind
enlarged somewhat by study and long experience in public affairs, and
with a temper not easily disturbed. Looking back upon his conduct of
the business entrusted to him, there can be no question of his ability
or fidelity. There was neither weakness nor indifference in that
mildness of sway. He understood completely the duties of his position,
was a jealous guardian of the appropriation bills, and was, moreover,
a most determined thick-and-thin partisan of Slavery in all its
pretensions. But I do not recollect that he interposed any objection
to the time or place of my motion; and though the Fugitive Slave Bill
was part of his political and social creed, I am sure that he allowed
the debate to close without any criticism upon my course, or a single
impatient word. All this now belongs to history, and I mention it as a
precedent for the present hour.

My motion that day was discussed on its merits, and I trust my motion
to-day will be discussed in the same way.

I seek to remove from the statute-book odious provisions in support of
Slavery. Whoever is in favor of those provisions, whoever is disposed
to keep alive the coastwise slave-trade, or to recognize it in our
statutes, will naturally vote against my motion. And yet let me say
that I am at a loss to understand how, at this moment, at this stage of
our history, any Senator can hesitate to unite with me in this work of
expurgation and purification. At all events, I trust the Senator from
Ohio will not set up an objection of form to prevent the success of
this good work. He must not be more severe against Freedom now than was
the representative of Slavery who occupied his place when I moved the
repeal of the Fugitive Slave Bill.

    Mr. Reverdy Johnson agreed with Mr. Sherman in his objection,
    and then argued, that, on the repeal of the Act of Congress
    regulating this trade, it could be carried on under the
    Constitution without restriction.

    Mr. Sumner said:--

Of course I disagree radically with the Senator from Maryland [Mr.
JOHNSON]. He is always willing to interpret the Constitution for
Slavery. I interpret it for Freedom. And yet he is anxious lest
the repeal of the two obnoxious sections regulating the coastwise
slave-trade should leave it open to unrestrained practice. I do not
share his anxiety.

Where will the slaves come from? Not from the Rebel States; for
Emancipation is the destined law there. Not from his own State; for
Emancipation will soon be the law there. But even should slaves be
found for this traffic (which, thank God, cannot be the case), I
am unwilling that Congress should continue to regulate the ignoble
business. Our statute-book should not be defiled by any such license.
Remove this license, and the Constitution, rightly interpreted, will do
the rest.

Here arises the difference between the Senator and myself. He proceeds
as if those old days still prevailed, when Slavery was installed
supreme over the Supreme Court, giving immunity to Slavery everywhere.
The times have changed, and the Supreme Court will yet testify to the
change. To me it seems clear, that, under the Constitution, no person
can be held as a slave on shipboard within the national jurisdiction,
and that the national flag cannot cover a slave. The Senator thinks
differently, and relies upon the Supreme Court; but I cannot doubt
that this regenerated tribunal will yet speak for Freedom as in times
past it has spoken for Slavery. And I trust, should my life be spared,
to see the Senator from Maryland, who bows always to the decisions of
that tribunal, recognize gladly the law of Freedom thus authoritatively
pronounced. Perhaps he will wonder that he was ever able to interpret
the Constitution for Slavery. If he should not, others must.

But my special purpose is to remove odious provisions, and I have
contented myself with words of repeal, in the hope of presenting the
proposition in such a form as to unite the largest number of votes. My
own disposition has been to go further, and to add words of positive
prohibition. But, at the present moment, I am willing to waive
this addition, and content myself with the simple repeal, that our
statute-book may no longer be degraded, trusting that the Constitution,
rightly interpreted, will suffice. And yet the positive prohibition,
which the Senator seems to invite or to challenge, would not only
purify the statute-book, but effectually guard against the future, so
that both Constitution and Law would be arrayed against an infamous
traffic. Clearly this ought to be done; and if I have not presented
it, do not set it down to indifference or inattention, but simply to
my desire that the proposition, moved on an appropriation bill, should
be limited to the necessity of the occasion. To do less than I propose
would be wrong. I should be glad to do more.

    Mr. Hendricks, of Indiana, remarked:--

        “I am surprised that any Senator should oppose the
        proposition of the Senator from Massachusetts, for we all
        know that eventually it will be adopted. The objection as
        to its materiality, or proper connection with this measure,
        is but an objection of time. No gentleman can question
        that the Senator from Massachusetts will eventually carry
        his proposition.… Why, then, contest the matter longer?…
        It may as well come now as at any time.… Sir, I regret
        to see this. Every law put upon the statute-book by our
        fathers, with a view of carrying out the provisions of the
        Constitution, or in pursuance of the spirit of the union
        between the States, I regret to see wiped out; but we have
        witnessed it, and I think the effort to delay is useless.”

    Mr. Collamer, of Vermont, argued for the repeal, insisting
    that “all laws that undertake to deal with slaves, who are
    persons under the Constitution and our laws, as articles of
    merchandise, are unconstitutional.”

    Meanwhile Mr. Sumner added to his amendment the words, “and
    the coastwise slave-trade is prohibited forever”; so that the
    amendment repealed the two obnoxious sections regulating the
    trade, and also prohibited it.

    June 25th, the debate continuing, Mr. Sumner spoke again.

I wish to make one remark on the question of power. I say nothing on
the point whether Congress under the Constitution may regulate the
trade in slaves between the States on the land. I waive that question.
The proposition before the Senate simply undertakes to prohibit the
coastwise slave-trade. Now, Sir, I hold in my hand Brightly’s Digest.
Turning to that, you will find one head entitled “Coasting Trade,”
containing no less than forty-eight different sections, each in the
nature of a regulation by Congress on that subject. I turn next to
another head, entitled “Passengers.” There I find seventeen sections,
each in the nature of a regulation on that subject; and in point of
fact it is well known that Congress has, by most minute regulations,
determined the conditions on which passengers shall be carried in
ships. It is known that those regulations are applied especially on
board the California steamers, and the steamers between this country
and Europe. In the one case the steamers are foreign; in the other they
are domestic,--or the trade, if I may so say, is domestic. In view of
this minute and ample legislation on the subject of passengers and of
the coasting-trade, I submit there can be no question that Congress
can go further, and, by a final regulation, declare that in our
coasting-trade there shall be no such thing as the slave-trade.

    The amendment was lost,--Yeas 13, Nays 20.

    At the next stage of the bill Mr. Sumner moved the same
    amendment, with the words prohibiting the coastwise
    slave-trade. On moving it, he remarked:--

I have but one observation to make. It seems to me this Congress will
do wrong to itself, wrong to the country, wrong to history, wrong to
the national cause, if it separates without clearing the statute-book
of every support of Slavery. Now this is the last support in the
statute-book, and I entreat the Senate to remove it.

    Mr. Saulsbury moved the indefinite postponement of the bill,
    which was lost without a division. Meanwhile Mr. Sumner had
    succeeded in attaching to the Appropriation Bill the clause
    opening United States courts to colored witnesses. Alluding to
    this incident, Mr. Doolittle said that he did not like to vote
    for such measures on appropriation bills, but that he was in
    favor of the abolition of the coastwise slave-trade, and should
    vote in the affirmative.

    The amendment was carried,--Yeas 23, Nays 14,--and the bill
    was approved by the President July 2, 1864.


JUNE 25, 1864.

    Failing to obtain a hearing for the bill reported from the
    Committee on Slavery and Freedmen,[364] Mr. Sumner resorted
    again to the Appropriation Bill.

    June 25th, the Senate having under consideration the Civil
    Appropriation Bill, Mr. Sumner, after stating that the third
    section appropriated one hundred thousand dollars to aid the
    administration of justice, especially in bringing to conviction
    counterfeiters of Treasury notes, bonds, or other United States
    securities, as well as coin, remarked, that, to accomplish this
    result, something more than money was needed,--that there must
    be an amendment of the Law of Evidence; and he sent to the
    Chair the following proviso, to be added to the third section:--

        “_Provided_, That in the courts of the United States there
        shall be no exclusion of any witness on account of color.”

    Mr. Sumner then remarked:--

This, Mr. President, is an amendment surely apposite. The objection
of form, urged to my other proposition, is without any shadow of
support here. It is proposed in the bill to appropriate one hundred
thousand dollars to “bring to trial and punishment” counterfeiters. The
object is important, especially at this moment, when we are putting
in circulation national securities on so large a scale. But suppose
the counterfeiter, in a State where the evidence of colored persons
is excluded, chooses to employ such persons in his crime. How can you
bring him to punishment? All this large appropriation will not help
then. It will be of no avail. The counterfeiter, surrounded by colored
accomplices, may mock your laws. But admit the testimony of these
accomplices, and then will justice be done. I refer to this class of
cases because your bill provides especially for them, and thus attests
the importance of precautionary effort.

But the hardship and absurdity of this rule, apparent in the case of
a counterfeiter surrounded by colored accomplices, arise in every
other case of crime. How justice can be administered, where such a
rule prevails, I am at a loss to understand. Now that Slavery is
disappearing, this rule ought to disappear also.

The subject has already been discussed at length, during the present
session, in an elaborate report which I have had the honor of making
from the Select Committee on Slavery and Freedmen; so that I need not
occupy your time. Besides, the case is too plain for argument. But
I have in my hands letters from gentlemen in Virginia, showing the
practical necessity of the testimony of colored persons there. Here is

                                               “HALL OF THE CONVENTION,
                                  ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, March 17, 1864.

    “I address thee as friend, although having no personal
    acquaintance, but have long known thee by reputation as a
    friend to the human race. Having been connected with the
    reorganized government from its beginning, I naturally feel a
    strong interest in its welfare.

    “We have in Convention abolished slavery in the organic law of
    the State, and it would at first sight seem as if our fondest
    hopes were realized. But another difficulty now stares us
    in the face, which, in the present state of public opinion,
    we cannot conquer: I allude to the subject of allowing the
    freedmen to give testimony in our courts. This will not be
    allowed, where the interests of whites are involved. The result
    that will follow any one can foresee,--that their persons and
    property will be at the mercy of every vagabond who may happen
    to have a black heart instead of a black skin.

    “While they were slaves, their masters were a protection to
    them against others. Although there was not much law looking
    that way, their owners being of the all-powerful class in the
    communities in which they lived, their influence answered the
    end very well. My object in writing was to make thee acquainted
    with the probable future position of these people, thinking it
    might be possible to ameliorate their condition by some Federal
    legislation. While I speak of Virginia, I have no doubt but
    that the same will be true of the whole South, and will be a
    gigantic evil that may lead to the most disastrous results.
    The negro, after this war, will not be the same man as before:
    breathing the air of freedom, trained to arms, understanding
    the power of combination, and familiar with blood, it will be
    tampering with a volcano to deny him protection of person and

I do not give the name of this writer, because he is unwilling that
it should be known. But you will observe, from the date of the letter,
that he was a member of the Virginia Convention. His testimony will
speak for itself. The other letter, as you will see, is from the
District Judge of Virginia.

                                         “UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,
                                  ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, March 22, 1864.

    “DEAR SIR,--Some time since I saw by the papers that you were
    urging the admission of our freedmen as witnesses in all United
    States courts.

    “In several confiscation cases now pending in this court such
    testimony will be of the greatest importance. Indeed, I am
    told by the United States Assistant Attorney in this court,
    that, from his knowledge in the preparation of these cases, the
    prosecution will probably fail, and the Government be subjected
    to costs, unless such testimony is allowed in several cases now
    on our docket. You will therefore see the necessity of a speedy
    change of the law, corresponding to the change which has taken
    place in the condition of the freedmen.

        “Your obedient servant,

            “JOHN C. UNDERWOOD, _District Judge_.

    “Hon. CHARLES SUMNER, _United States Senate_.”

This is practical wisdom. Let me add to it proof from another quarter.
Sir Samuel Romilly, whose great fame as a lawyer was enhanced by humane
labors in Parliament, has furnished evidence on this very point.

    “The laws of the Colonies are said to be humane; but by those
    laws a child of five or six years old may receive, for a slight
    offence or for no offence, at the caprice of the master or
    overseer, no less than thirty-nine lashes with what is termed
    a cart-whip. To this dreadful extent the law _authorizes_ the
    infliction of punishment by individuals. But even in cases
    where the law conveys no authority, where wanton cruelty is
    inflicted in defiance of the law, how easy it must be to
    escape detection, when the testimony of a negro, or a thousand
    negroes, would not avail against a white man! And with what
    force must this argument strike, when we reflect on the
    proportion which the white bear to the black inhabitants of
    the island! What security could we expect in our passage even
    through the streets of London, if ninety-nine people out of
    a hundred, or even nine out of ten, were incompetent to give
    evidence in a court of justice?”[365]

Mr. President, in bringing forward this measure, I waive for the
present all questions of right, and, if you please, all sentiments of
humanity. I ask attention plainly and directly to the practical failure
of justice which must arise without its adoption. This may be seen
under two different heads: first, with regard to colored persons; and,
secondly, with regard to white persons.

If colored persons cannot testify against white persons, what
protection can they have against outrage? The white person may
perpetrate any brutality upon colored persons with impunity. There is
nothing in the dreary catalogue of crime, from a simple assault to
murder itself, which may not be committed with impunity by a white
person, if no other white person be present. This bare statement is
enough. Surely at this moment there should be no delay in preventing
such failure of justice.

But the same failure may occur in the case of white persons. Let a
white person be assaulted, or murdered, if you please, by another white
person, but only in the presence of colored persons, and justice cannot
be administered. The criminal will continue at large unpunished.

Therefore, for the administration of justice, that it may not fail to
the colored person, and then again that it may not fail to the white
person, there should be no exclusion of any citizens on account of

Let the witness always be admitted to testify, leaving the jury to be
judges of his credibility. If his story seems improbable, or there be
anything in his manner, conduct, or past life to excite distrust, the
jury will be able to measure the just weight of his testimony.

It is hard to be obliged to argue this question. I do not argue it.
I will not argue it. I simply ask for your votes. Surely, Congress
will not adjourn without redressing this grievance. The king, in Magna
Charta, promised that he would deny justice to no one. Congress has
succeeded to this promise and obligation.

    Mr. Sherman said he “trusted, that, after the experience of
    last night, when the thermometer here rose to ninety-three
    degrees, and we were all exhausted by a debate on irrelevant
    matter, the Senator from Massachusetts would not introduce upon
    this appropriation bill a topic of this kind.” He thought we
    had already voted on this amendment on two other bills.

    Mr. Sumner, after remarking that he had not been able to bring
    the amendment applicable to the United States courts to a vote
    by itself, said:--

I can state to the Senator the different occasions on which this
principle prevailed. It prevailed on the statute emancipating slaves
in this District; but here it was applicable only to cases arising
in questions of freedom under the statute. It was next broadened to
all proceedings in the courts of the District. But it has not been
applied beyond that. I have sought to apply it generally; I have moved
it more than once on other bills, and have failed; and the measure
is now pending as a bill reported by the Select Committee on Slavery
and Freedmen, and it is also pending as a section of another bill
reported by the Senator from Vermont [Mr. COLLAMER] from the Committee
on Post-Offices and Post-Roads. Therefore it has the approval, as a
general proposition, of two separate committees of this body, while, as
a proposition applicable to the District of Columbia, it has had the
sanction of the Senate twice over; and now I plead with the Senate not
to arrest it here.

    Mr. Sherman replied: “I agree with the Senator in the
    general principle entirely; but I hope he will not press the
    proposition as an amendment to this bill, for I know it will
    create discussion.”

    Mr. Sumner said:--

I believe it is always time for an act of justice, and I think this
Congress ought not to separate without this act of justice. It ought
to do it for the sake of the administration of justice. I have not
put this case, you will bear witness, on any grounds of sympathy
or sentiment or humanity; I plead for it now as essential to the
administration of justice; and for one, as a Senator, I cannot
willingly abandon the opportunity afforded me by my seat here of making
this motion,--of making this effort to open the courts of my country to
evidence without which justice must often fail.

    Mr. Carlile, of Virginia, appealed to Mr. Sumner “to withdraw
    the amendment, and allow this subject to rest, at least until
    the next session of Congress.” This he declined to do.

    Mr. Buckalew, of Pennsylvania, thereupon moved to amend the
    amendment by adding, “nor in civil actions, because he is a
    party to or interested in the issue tried.” Then came the
    following passage.

MR. SUMNER. I am in favor of that proposition, taken by itself; but I
do not wish it put upon this.

    MR. GRATZ BROWN (to Mr. SUMNER). That is just what other people
    say about yours.

MR. SUMNER. I understand that; but I wish to secure this justice.

    MR. BUCKALEW. I wish to secure the additional justice provided
    by my amendment.

MR. SUMNER. I will vote for the Senator’s proposition by itself. Let
him move it when mine is carried.

    MR. SAULSBURY. I do not wish to say anything about the “nigger”
    aspect of this case. It is here every day, and I suppose it
    will be here every day for years to come, till the Democratic
    party comes into power and wipes out all legislation on the
    statute-book of this character, which I trust in God they will
    soon do.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The amendment of Mr. Buckalew was agreed to, and Mr. Sumner’s
    amendment, as amended, was carried,--Yeas 22, Nays 16,--and the
    bill was approved by the President July 2, 1864.



    The effort at Reconstruction, which failed in the previous
    Congress, was superseded at the present session by another,
    having, like the former, as its distinctive feature, the
    assertion of the power of Congress over the Rebel States.

    February 15th, Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland, reported a bill
    to guaranty to certain States, whose governments have been
    usurped or overthrown, a republican form of government. This
    bill provided for these States Provisional Governors, appointed
    by the President by and with the advice and consent of the
    Senate; also, the assembling of Constitutional Conventions,
    chosen by “loyal white male citizens,” being a majority of the
    persons enrolled in the State, which shall declare “involuntary
    servitude forever prohibited, and the freedom of all persons
    guarantied in said State”; also, all slaves were declared
    emancipated, and persons free by this or any other act or by
    “any proclamation of the President” were protected in their
    freedom. After earnest debate, this bill passed the House May
    4th,--Yeas 74, Nays 66.

    In the Senate the bill was referred to the Committee on
    Territories, of which Mr. Wade was Chairman. May 27th, he
    reported it to the Senate with amendments. July 1st, it was on
    his motion considered, and, in order to save the bill at that
    late day of the session, he abandoned the amendments reported,
    the most important of which was to strike out the word “white,”
    so as to read “all male citizens of the United States.” This
    amendment was rejected, by Yeas 5, Nays 24,--the minority being
    Messrs. Gratz Brown, Lane, of Kansas, Morgan, of New York,
    Pomeroy, of Kansas, and Sumner. Mr. Gratz Brown then moved to
    substitute for the whole bill a single section, providing that
    the inhabitants of a State declared to be in insurrection shall
    not cast any vote for electors of President or Vice-President,
    or elect Senators or Representatives in Congress, until the
    suppression of the insurrection, “nor until such return to
    obedience shall be declared by proclamation of the President,
    issued by virtue of an Act of Congress, hereafter to be
    passed, authorizing the same.” This was in conformity with
    propositions introduced by Mr. Sumner.[366] The House bill was
    unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it founded the new governments on
    “white male citizens”: but, besides asserting the power of
    Congress over the Rebel States, it decreed the abolition of
    Slavery in these States; therefore Mr. Sumner favored it. But
    the substitute of Mr. Brown prevailed,--Yeas 17, Nays 16.

    Mr. Sumner then brought forward his bill, originally reported
    from the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, and moved it as an
    additional section:--

        “_And be it further enacted_, That the Proclamation of
        Emancipation, issued by the President of the United States
        on the 1st day of January, 1863, so far as the same
        declares that the slaves in certain designated States and
        portions of States thenceforward should be free, is hereby
        adopted and enacted as a statute of the United States, and
        as a rule and article for the government of the military
        and naval forces thereof.”

    Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, was in favor of this, but thought
    it “incongruous and out of place here.” Mr. Sumner followed.

The Senator from New Hampshire is entirely mistaken, when he says that
the section moved by me is incongruous. The Senator whispers to me that
he did not say so.[367] I beg his pardon; he began by saying it was
incongruous. It is entirely germane,--nothing could be more germane.
The section already adopted concerns the Rebel States: that I offer
concerns the Rebel States. The Senator cannot vote against what I now
offer; it is neither more nor less than this: to recognize as a statute
the Proclamation of Emancipation, putting it under the guaranty and
safeguard of an Act of Congress. That is all. It is as simple as day;
it is as plain as truth. It is impossible for any person recognizing
the Proclamation of Emancipation, or disposed to stand by it, to vote
against the amendment I now offer. I wish Emancipation in the Rebel
States supported by Congress. I am unwilling to see it left afloat
on a presidential proclamation. We are assured that the Proclamation
will not be changed; but who knows what may be the vicissitudes of
elections? I do not look far enough into the future to see what
proclamation may be issued hereafter. I would make the present sure,
and fix it forevermore and immortal in an Act of Congress.

    Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, denounced the amendment as “an
    attempt by Federal legislation to legislate for the States
    themselves, to regulate their domestic institutions,--to
    control property, in other words.” Mr. Gratz Brown said that
    the amendment, “as an independent proposition, met his hearty
    concurrence”; that he concurred heartily and fully with Mr.
    Sumner “as to the propriety of putting in the shape of a
    statute that proclamation of the President”; but that it ought
    not to be on the present bill, as it could not pass the House.

MR. SUMNER. I adopt the language of my friend from Missouri. He regards
his proposition as necessary. I regard his proposition, or something
equivalent, as necessary. But not less necessary do I regard that which
I have the honor to offer. His is to meet a question in Reconstruction.
Mine is to meet a similar question.

    MR. BROWN. Mine is not a proposition for Reconstruction, at
    all. It is simply providing that they shall not exercise the
    elective franchise until Congress authorizes it by Act.

MR. SUMNER. I understand it. The obvious effect is to postpone all
activities tending to Reconstruction, and to bring them all under the
rule of Congress. That is the object of the Senator. And my present
object is to bring Emancipation under the rule of Congress, so that
it shall no longer depend on the Proclamation of the President. I am
unwilling that Emancipation shall depend upon the will of any one man,
be he Senator or President. I would place it under the highest sanction
which our country knows. If I could, I would place it at once under
the shield of the Constitution; but that failing, let me place it
under that other safeguard, an Act of Congress. I am sure the Senator
cannot differ with me. But the Senator, whose experience here certainly
does not compare with that of others, assures us that this measure
cannot pass the other House. Sir, by what intuition has he arrived
at that knowledge? I have no means of knowing that. On the contrary,
if left to draw my conclusion from what has already occurred, I say,
unhesitatingly, it can pass the other House. The Senator forgets,
that, when it reaches the other House, it will not be as a bill, to
go through its three different stages,--but as an amendment to a
House bill, subject only to one stage of proceeding, with one vote. I
tell the Senator it can pass the other House. It only requires that
the Senate should send it there. Let us will it, and it can be done;
and I do entreat the Senator from Missouri, who I know is pledged so
strenuously to the cause of Emancipation, not to fail it at this hour.

    The amendment of Mr. Sumner was lost,--Yeas 11, Nays 21.

    The bill, as amended by the substitute of Mr. Brown,
    then passed the Senate,--Yeas 26, Nays 3. The House of
    Representatives disagreed to the substitute, and asked a
    conference. The Senate, on motion of Mr. Wade, receded from the
    substitute,--Yeas 18, Nays 14,--and so the bill passed both
    Houses; but it failed to receive the approval of the President
    of the United States.



    June 30th, Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent obtained,
    leave to bring in the following bill, which was read the first
    and second times by unanimous consent, and ordered to be

        A Bill to incorporate the National Academy of Literature
        and Art, and also to incorporate the National Academy of
        Moral and Political Sciences.

        _Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
        of the United States of America in Congress assembled_,
        That S. Austin Allibone, Pennsylvania, William C. Bryant,
        New York, Frederick E. Church, New York, George W. Curtis,
        New York, Richard H. Dana, Massachusetts, John S. Dwight,
        Massachusetts, Ralph W. Emerson, Massachusetts, Fitz-Greene
        Halleck, Connecticut, Oliver W. Holmes, Massachusetts,
        Henry W. Longfellow, Massachusetts, James R. Lowell,
        Massachusetts, George P. Marsh, Vermont, Hiram Powers,
        Ohio, William W. Story, Massachusetts, George Ticknor,
        Massachusetts, Henry T. Tuckerman, New York, Gulian C.
        Verplanck, New York, William D. Whitney, Connecticut,
        John G. Whittier, Massachusetts, Joseph E. Worcester,
        Massachusetts, their associates and successors, duly
        chosen, are hereby declared to be a body corporate for the
        study and cultivation of the ancient and modern languages,
        letters, and the fine arts, by the name of the National
        Academy of Literature and Art.

        SEC. 2. _And be it further enacted_, That George Bancroft,
        New York, Henry Ward Beecher, New York, Horace Binney,
        Pennsylvania, Robert J. Breckinridge, Kentucky, Edward
        Everett, Massachusetts, Thomas Ewing, Ohio, Henry W.
        Halleck, Army of the United States, California, Samuel
        G. Howe, Massachusetts, Charles King, New York, Francis
        Lieber, New York, J. Lothrop Motley, Massachusetts, John G.
        Palfrey, Massachusetts, Wendell Phillips, Massachusetts,
        Alonzo Potter, Pennsylvania, Josiah Quincy, Massachusetts,
        Henry B. Smith, New York, Jared Sparks, Massachusetts,
        Robert J. Walker, District of Columbia, Francis Wayland,
        Rhode Island, Theodore D. Woolsey, Connecticut, their
        associates and successors, duly chosen, are hereby declared
        to be a body corporate for the study and cultivation
        of history, and the sciences which concern morals and
        government, by the name of the National Academy of Moral
        and Political Sciences.

        SEC. 3. _And be it further enacted_, That each of these
        National Academies shall consist of not more than fifty
        ordinary members, of whom not more than ten shall be
        elected in any one year; that nominations shall be made and
        elections held at the regular annual meeting only, and that
        no nomination for any kind of membership shall be acted
        upon until it shall have been before the Academy for one
        year, and shall have been considered by a committee.

        SEC. 4. _And be it further enacted_, That each of these
        National Academies shall have power to make its own
        organization, including its constitution, by-laws, and
        rules and regulations; to fill all vacancies created by
        death, resignation, or otherwise; to provide for the
        election of foreign and domestic members, what number shall
        be a quorum, the division into classes, and all other
        matters needful or usual in such institutions, and to
        report the same to Congress.

        SEC. 5. _And be it further enacted_, That each of these
        National Academies shall hold an annual meeting at such
        place in the United States as may be designated, and,
        whenever thereto requested by any department of the
        Government, shall investigate, examine, and report upon
        any subject within their respective provinces: it being
        understood that the actual expense thereof, if any, shall
        be paid from appropriations which may be made for the
        purpose, but the Academies shall receive no compensation
        whatever for any services to the Government of the United

    July 2d, the Senate, on Mr. Sumner’s motion, proceeded to
    consider this bill. Mr. McDougall, of California, said: “This
    attempt at aggregating all power in the General Government
    tends to destroy the positive exercise of the power of local
    institutions.… The Senator from Massachusetts … undertakes to
    present this and other conterminous things as a policy, so as
    to wipe out the lines of the States and make one grand empire.
    That may be his policy. I have seen it indicated from various
    quarters. It is revolutionary.… I have not the right to promote
    such a corporation; he has not the right to promote such a

    Mr. Sumner replied briefly.

The answer is very simple. I have in my hand the Statutes at Large,
containing what was done by the last Congress. Here is “An Act to
incorporate the National Academy of Sciences,” approved March 3, 1863,
setting forth the names of eminent, not to say illustrious, men of
science in our country, and constituting them an Academy of Sciences.
It will be remembered that this Academy, during the present winter, met
in this Capitol; that one or more of our committee-rooms were set apart
for them; and I know that many Senators and gentlemen of the other
House took great interest in their meetings. This Academy is devoted to
the cultivation of the sciences properly so called.

    MR. MCDOUGALL. Will the Senator permit me to interrupt him?

MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

    MR. MCDOUGALL. There may be some questions about which the
    Senator and myself may not understand each other exactly. Of
    course we have the right to incorporate an institution in the
    District of Columbia, that is local to the District, by virtue
    of our general powers of legislation over it; but that is not
    within the sphere of this legislation, as I understand.

MR. SUMNER. The Act of Congress to which I refer is general in terms;
it is not limited to the District; it is a national act to create
a National Academy: and the bill before the Senate simply proposes
to apply the same principle to gentlemen engaged in the cultivation
of literature and art, also to gentlemen engaged in the cultivation
of history and those sciences which are connected with morals and
government. In the designation of the two academies I have respected
the example of France, which is the country that has most excelled in
academies of this kind. I believe the Act of Congress is sufficient
as a precedent. I do not think there can be any just constitutional
objection; and I am sure that the association, if once organized,
would give opportunities of activity and of influence important to the
literature of the country. I hope there will be no question about it.

    Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, wished to call up a bill from the
    House of Representatives, relating to certain half-breeds of
    the Winnebago Indians. “There is no chance of the pending bill
    passing the House of Representatives. What, then, is the use
    of taking up time with it here?” Mr. Morrill, of Maine, wished
    to introduce a bill to provide for the Washington aqueduct.
    Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, thought that “at this stage of the
    session it was a little too late to be engaged in making a
    close corporation of mutual admirers,” and he moved to take up
    a bill providing for the education of naval constructors and
    steam-engineers. The last motion prevailed.



    July 2d, late in the evening, this day being Saturday, it was
    proposed that the session of Congress should finally close on
    Monday, July 4th, at noon. Mr. Sumner earnestly opposed this

MR. PRESIDENT,--In determining when to adjourn we may be guided by
the experience of the past. If earlier Congresses, having less to do,
infinitely less, than the present Congress, have found it necessary to
continue their sessions through the summer, it is not improper to ask
if we should be less industrious and less persevering.

I have in my hand a memorandum of the adjournments of Congress at the
long session during the last twenty years. It is most suggestive, at
least, even if not commanding to us.

The first session of the Twenty-Ninth Congress closed August 10, 1846.
The war with Mexico had just begun. The first session of the Thirtieth
Congress ended August 14, 1848. The main discussion of this year was
on the Wilmot Proviso. The first session of the Thirty-First Congress
lasted till September 30, 1850. This was the session of Compromise. The
Fugitive Slave Act bears date September 18th of this year. The first
session of the Thirty-Second Congress did not close till August 31,
1852. During this period the Compromise measures were much discussed,
also the Presidential question, and the platforms of the two great
parties. It was as late as August 26th that I had the honor of moving
the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, being one of the Slavery
compromises adopted by the previous Congress. The first session of the
Thirty-Third Congress adjourned August 7, 1854. This was early for
those times. The first session of the Thirty-Fourth Congress adjourned
August 30, 1856, Kansas being the constant order of the day. Down to
this period there was no adjournment before August, and one Congress
sat as late as September 30th. But a change took place.

In 1856 the old _per diem_ of eight dollars, as compensation of
Senators and Representatives, was transmuted into the present system
of compensation by an annual salary of three thousand dollars, be the
session long or short. See now what ensued. The first session of the
Thirty-Fifth Congress, immediately after the change of pay, closed
June 14, 1858; and yet the questions of Kansas and the Lecompton
Constitution were uppermost. The first session of the Thirty-Sixth
Congress closed June 28, 1860, on the eve of the Presidential election,
having been much occupied by the crisis of that historic conflict.
Then came the long session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, which did
not adjourn till July 17, 1862, being a remarkable session, which has
stored the statute-book with monuments of its industry and patriotism.
Such is the record of the past; and now it is proposed to adjourn on
the 4th of July.

There are two suggestions with regard to this record, which you will
pardon me for making. First, so long as Congress was paid at the
rate of eight dollars a day, and salary depended upon the duration
of the session, Congress sat late in the season. It is humiliating
to think that a consideration apparently so trivial could have had
such influence; but such are the facts. The other suggestion is of a
different character. It appears, that, while the pretensions of Slavery
were to be upheld, Congress was willing to give up the whole summer,
even into autumn, to the odious theme. For the sake of an execrable
Fugitive Slave Act, and other kindred measures, it bore all these
heats, now so insupportable.

Sir, long ago I began the cry that we of the Free States must be as
earnest and positive for Freedom as our opponents had always been for
Slavery. Why not imitate their example? Business did not draw them
away, heat did not drive them away, when Slavery was in question. But
Freedom in every form is now in question. There is your army: it must
be sustained. There are your finances: must they not be sustained also?
There, too, are the great ideas of Freedom involved in this war. Much
as has been done to uphold these, more remains to be done.

The question of finances assumes a practical form, and, as I am
informed, it is now under discussion in the other House. While they
debate an increased taxation, we are here, close upon midnight,
considering how to end the session. That subject which of all others is
the most difficult and delicate, which touches all the great interests
of the country, which cannot be treated in any hasty or perfunctory
style, which should be handled always with supremest caution, and
which at the present moment is almost a question of life and death, is
still to be considered by the Senate; and yet Senators are willing,
by fixing the hour of adjournment, to see this most important debate
“cabined, cribbed, confined” to the limits of a few hours, I might
almost say minutes. Why, Sir, it has not yet been finally acted on in
the other House, and we know not when it can reach us. But we know
well, that, whenever it does reach the Senate, the whole vast subject
of taxation will be open again. It is understood that the pending
proposition is for an increased income tax. In other times, when
Senators had not such uncontrollable longings for home, such a measure
would have been approached with becoming care. But this is not the only
question involved. It is proposed to tax tobacco in the leaf, and thus
add millions to the revenue. And then we have again the perpetually
recurring question of taxing whiskey on hand, destined to bring into
our exchequer yet other millions.

    MR. TRUMBULL. Have we not considered that?

MR. SUMNER. I understand that at this moment it is under consideration
in the other House.

    MR. TRUMBULL. Has it not been under consideration for months?

MR. SUMNER. Of course it has; but it is under consideration still. The
two Houses, as the Senator knows well, have differed. The other House
favors taxing whiskey on hand. The Senate has steadfastly resisted the
tax. But it is not too late for the Senate to yield, especially when
the necessity for more money is apparent, and the late distinguished
head of the Treasury has in a formal communication recommended this
very tax. There is no way in which so much money can be had so easily
and so justly. Let Congress stay together until the tax is laid. At all
events, do not leave without considering it again in the new light.
This is my answer to the Senator from Illinois.

But if you are unwilling to tax whiskey on hand, or tobacco, then find
something else to tax. But tax you must. Tax, because of the necessity
of the case. Tax, because the people ask to be taxed. For the first
time in history the phenomenon occurs that the people rise up and
demand to be taxed. Unless I err, this is the cry from every quarter. I
know it is the cry from my part of the country. It is a patriotic cry,
because the people believe further taxation essential to the national
credit and the safety of the country. All honor to the people for this
invitation to Congress!

And now Congress is about to leave, to flee away, without performing
this essential duty. A tax bill has been passed, which already,
before going into operation, is pronounced inadequate in an official
communication by Mr. Chase. And yet, in despite of this judgment,
Senators are willing to go home. It is said we need some hundred
million dollars more; and yet, in the face of this asserted necessity,
and in the face of that generous demand from every part of the country,
which Congress should make haste to gratify, it is now urged that we
should abdicate.

    MR. DAVIS. Mr. President,----

MR. SUMNER. Let me finish. I will give the Senator from Kentucky a fair
opportunity in one moment.

    MR. DAVIS. I merely wish to ask a question.

MR. SUMNER. Very well; I will answer it.

    MR. DAVIS. The question I ask the honorable Senator is, whether
    he is not mistaken as to the subject of this great demand of
    the country,--whether, instead of being taxed, it is not to
    have Slavery abolished everywhere. [_Laughter._]

MR. SUMNER. Unquestionably there is a great demand to have Slavery
abolished everywhere, thank God! I present petitions daily with this
prayer. But another demand at this moment is to make the war practical
and efficient by all needed supplies; and, as I have said, the people,
for the first time in history, ask to be taxed.

    MR. DAVIS. Where are your petitions from the people for it?

MR. SUMNER. Petitions! They will be found in the public press, and in
the communications of constituents. Formal documents are not needed.
Gentlemen have arrived here to-night, fresh from the people, who are in
themselves more than “petitions.” They insist that there must be more
taxation. Here, also, is a telegraphic despatch, received this very
evening, signed by the first business men of Massachusetts:--


    “It will be simply an act of madness for Congress to adjourn
    without passing bills for large additional taxes, and such
    other measures as the existing financial crisis demands.”

Language could not be stronger. Surely I am right in saying that
Congress ought not to turn a deaf ear to this unprecedented prayer. At
least, the prayer ought to be considered. For myself, I wish not only
to consider it, but to supply the desired taxation, and I ask that
Congress shall continue in these seats until the good work is done.
Nay, more, Sir,--I protest against any desertion until that work is

The great contest in which we are engaged depends not only upon
General Grant in the field, but upon Congress also. If Congress fails
to supply the needed means, vain is victory, vain are all the toils
of many hard-fought fields. It is through these means supplied by
Congress that the future will be secure. Do not deceive yourselves by
saying that you have already taxed the country. The late distinguished
Secretary of the Treasury, in an authoritative communication, insists
that more means are needed. Do not set him aside without at least
considering his recommendation. On such an occasion, when perhaps the
life of the country is in question, when surely the national credit is
at stake, err, if err you must, on the side of prudence.

Mr. President, it is natural that Senators who have been engaged for
months in the labors of an anxious session should be glad to escape
from the confinement and heat of Washington. I sympathize with them.
I wish to be away. I long to leave the capital. Did I allow myself to
take counsel of personal advantage, I should be among the most earnest
of those now crying for adjournment. Born on the sea-shore, accustomed
to the sea air, I am less prepared than many of my friends to endure
the climate here. I feel sensibly its sultry heats, and I pant for
the taste of salt in the atmosphere. Nor am I insensible to other
influences. What little remains to me of home and friendship is far
away from here,--where I was born. But home, friendship, and sea-shore
must not tempt me at this hour. Lord Bacon tells us, in striking and
most suggestive phrase, “The duties of life are more than life.” But if
ever there was a time when the duties of a Senator were supreme above
all other things, so that temptation of all kinds should be trampled
under foot, it is now.

    An earnest debate ensued, in which Mr. Sumner spoke again.

I take it, Sir, that the proceedings to-night are utterly without
precedent in the history of the Senate. It is now more than two hours
into Sunday morning. The Senate has on former occasions sat Sunday
morning, but it was under the exigency of the Constitution, which
brought the session to a close on the 4th of March. There is no such
exigency now, and this Sunday morning debate is instituted simply to
secure an adjournment of Congress on Monday. That is the single object
of all done here to-night,--all these strange proceedings, making a
sort of Walpurgis night of Sunday. But I say nothing of incidental
matters. I bring home the fact that you now extend your session into
Sunday merely that you may hasten away on Monday. It is not for any
public exigency; it is not to pass any great measure; it is not to
comply with any requirement of the Constitution; but simply to satisfy
your own desires or predilections to leave Washington on Monday.

And now, Sir, as to leaving Washington on Monday, we are told that
the other House wish to leave, and that it has already disposed of the
question of taxation by sending us a proposition for an income tax,
and the Senator over the way [Mr. LANE, of Kansas], who tells us he
has kept such sharp look-out on the House to-night, announces that
all other propositions are discarded, that there is to be no tax on
tobacco, no tax upon whiskey on hand, no tax on anything else, for
the House has come to its conclusion. Does the Senator know, that, if
Congress continues in session twenty-four hours longer, or forty-eight
hours longer, the House will not be wiser and more patriotic? Does the
Senator who has kept such sharp look-out know that the House will not
rise at last to the requirements of the hour?

    Here Mr. Sumner was called to order by Mr. Richardson, of
    Illinois, as reflecting on the other House, and the call was
    sustained by the presiding officer, who said: “It has been
    practised too often on the part of Senators to allude to the
    House of Representatives.”

MR. SUMNER. I hope I shall proceed in order. I certainly did not
intend to proceed out of order. I was not aware that I was making any
reflection on the House of Representatives. We criticize very freely
each other; the members of one House criticize the proceedings of the
other House; and we criticize the country, and the country criticizes

Now, Sir, we are told that the House has disposed of the question of
taxation. I am in order when I allude to that. May we not hope, then,
that, if the session is extended a little longer, they will see the
necessity of increased taxation?

    He proceeded to develop again the necessity of taxation for the
    sake of our finances, and especially of the national debt, “to
    the payment of which the country is pledged.”

    Mr. Sumner moved to substitute Tuesday, July 5th, at noon, for
    Monday, July 4th, at noon. This was lost,--Yeas 11, Nays 22.
    The resolution of adjournment was then adopted,--Yeas 20, Nays

    July 4th, shortly before adjournment at noon, the Senate acted
    on the House bill imposing a special income tax of five per
    cent, which was adopted,--Yeas 29, Nays 7.



    At this meeting Governor Andrew presided and spoke. He was
    followed by Hon. Alexander H. Rice, Hon. George S. Boutwell,
    Hon. Henry Wilson, and General Cutler of the Army, when Mr.
    Sumner was introduced. The report says: “He was received with
    great cheering and the waving of hats and handkerchiefs for a
    considerable time.” He at length spoke as follows.


Listening to the gallant soldier now taking his seat, I was reminded of
the saying from the far East, “Words are the daughters of Earth, but
deeds are the sons of Heaven.” [_Loud applause._] A noble officer comes
before you, fresh from the Army of the Potomac; but he gives words
also which in themselves are deeds [_renewed applause_], for he tells
you plainly, truly, how to meet the great issue before us. Sir, what
has been said so well, so bravely, and so eloquently by the speakers
who have addressed you leaves little for me. I have not come to make a
speech. The summons was to assemble for congratulation upon those great
victories which have given assurance of the integrity of the Union, and
I am here for this purpose. [_Applause._]

We celebrate to-night two victories,--each a heavy blow, under which
the Rebellion reels and staggers to its final fall. [_Cheers._] Admiral
Farragut, by a naval expedition incomparable in the hardihood and skill
with which it was planned and executed, has occupied all the approaches
of Mobile, so that this important port is now, thank God, hermetically
sealed against those English supplies which from the beginning have
been the source of encouragement and strength to the Rebellion.
[_Applause._] General Sherman, on his part, by a marvellous succession
of battles and of marches, overcoming obstacles interposed by Nature
and a stubborn foe, has shown triumphantly that our army can march
and then fight, march and then fight again, and conquer [_applause,
and “Good!”_], while by the capture of Atlanta he has shattered
the very key-stone of the Rebel arch. [_Renewed applause._] These,
fellow-citizens, are the victories we commemorate.

This is a season of joy, not that fellow-citizens in arms against us
have been overcome, not that blood is flowing, not that fields and
villages and towns are smoking, but that our country is redeemed from
peril, and the public enemy is beaten down under our feet. [_Long
continued applause._] Such is the occasion of rejoicing to-night.
Hearts overflow, eyes glisten, the voice cries out with gladness, the
heart echoes to the booming cannon, and victory thrills us all with its
bewitching, triumphant music. This, Sir, is the time to rejoice: for
there is a time to lament, and there is a time also to enjoy; and this
is a time for joy. “Blow, bugles, blow! set all your wild notes flying!”

Unhappy those who cannot unite in our joy! Unhappy those who, as
they listen to the triumphant salvos, to the swelling music, and
to these exultant voices here to-night, cannot echo them back with
gladness in their hearts! Unhappy all such, who call themselves by
the American name! And why can they not rejoice? Alas! it is because
their sympathies are with the enemy, or because they place party above
country, even to the extent of seeing that country cut in twain [_A
voice, “Shame!”_], like the false mother who appeared for judgment
before Solomon. The wise monarch clearly perceived that a woman ready
to see her child divided in two was a false mother: so may we all
clearly perceive that people ready to see their country divided in two
are false citizens. The judgment of Solomon stands good to this hour,
against all showing such perfidious insensibility.

Fellow-citizens, these Northern renegades (I like to call things by
their proper names, and I thank my honored friend who preceded me for
his exposition, telling how near they come to being traitors)--these
Northern renegades are nothing else than unarmed guerrilla bands of
Jefferson Davis, marauding here at the North. [_Loud cheers._] They cry
out, “_Peace!_”--but, fellow-citizens, are we not all for peace? Sir,
are you not for peace? Are not all the honored gentlemen by whom I am
surrounded for peace? Peace is the sentiment, the longing, the passion
of my life. Not Falkland in the bloody days of the English civil war
cried, “_Peace! Peace!_” more fervently than I do now. For me the day
begins, continues, and ends with this aspiration; but it is precisely
because I am thus determined for peace, because peace is with me such
a be-all and end-all, that I now insist, at all hazards, that this
Rebellion shall be overthrown and trampled out at once and utterly, so
that it shall never again break forth in blood. [_Loud cheers._] In the
name of peace, and for the sake of good-will among men, do I now insist
that this Rebellion shall be so completely blasted as to leave behind
no root or remnant which may become the germ of future war.

Fellow-citizens, let me be frank, for such is my habit, here, or
wherever else I have the honor to speak. In vain do you expect to
destroy the Rebellion, unless you destroy Slavery [_applause_]; for
Slavery, be assured, is but another name for the Rebellion. The two are
synonyms; they are convertible terms. The Rebellion is but Slavery in
arms, whether on land or on sea; on foot, on horseback, or afloat, it
is ever belligerent Slavery, warring to establish a wicked empire. If
you are against one, you must be against the other. If you are ready to
strike Rebellion, you must be ready to strike Slavery. If you are ready
to strike Slavery, you must be ready to strike Rebellion. The President
was clearly right, when, in a recent letter, he declared that he should
accept no terms of peace which did not begin with the abandonment of
Slavery. [_“Good!” and cheers._] The Union cannot live with Slavery.
Nothing can be clearer. If Slavery dies, the Union lives; if Slavery
lives, the Union dies. God save the Union!

And now, fellow-citizens, it only remains that you should comprehend
the grandeur of the cause and of your position. Consider well the
Thermopylæ pass in which you stand battling for Liberty,--not only here
at home, but everywhere throughout the globe; and forget not, that,
if you take care of Liberty, the Union will take care of itself,--or,
better still, know, that, if you save Liberty, you save everything.
[_Loud cheers._]



    HON. JOHN C. GRAY presided at this meeting.

FELLOW-CITIZENS,--I do not speak to-night in the belief that anything
in the way of speech, from me or anybody else, can add to the certainty
that Abraham Lincoln will be reëlected President of the United States.
This event is already fixed beyond doubt or question. [_Applause._]
It is the clear, palpable, visible will of the American people, which
only waits the official record of the 8th of November next. The case
is plain. Everybody who voted for him four years ago will vote for him
now, while others, like Edward Everett [_cheers_], who voted against
him before, will gladly range among his supporters. Here is a sum
of simple addition, requiring very little arithmetic. But it is not
astonishing that persons who have lost their patriotism should lose the
power of calculation also.

And here let me remark, that, in taking a place at the head of our
ticket,[368] the distinguished gentleman to whom I have referred
renders a patriotic service, and sets an example to all Bell-Everett
men, who do not prefer to follow Bell rather than Everett. If any
belonging to that extinct combination vote against Edward Everett,
it will be only to find themselves in the company of the traitor,
John Bell. If you choose to give them a designation, let it be simply
“Bell men.” It remains to be seen how many, at this crisis, prefer
the traitor to the patriot. These two names, once in conjunction, now
represent the two hostile ideas of Rebellion and Patriotism.

Even if the election be certain, our duty is none the less imperative.
It is certain, because every good citizen will do his duty, and will
see that his neighbor does it, too. It is certain, because, thank God,
Patriotism at the North is stronger than Rebellion. [_Cheers._] But we
must all unite to make it gloriously certain.

I have often, on former occasions, when addressing my fellow-citizens,
put the question, “Are you for Freedom, or are you for Slavery?”--and I
put this question now; for it is the question which necessarily enters
into the coming election. On the answer hinges absolutely the peace of
our country and the perpetuity of our institutions. Therefore I put the
question in another form: “Are you for your country, or are you for the
Rebellion?” That is the question to decide by your votes. It is vain
to evade this question, vain to wink it out of sight. It will come to
every man as he puts in his vote, and he should decide it sincerely,
patriotically, religiously.

And now, that I may bring this responsibility home to mind and
conscience, I have no hesitation in saying, that, in voting against
Abraham Lincoln, you will not only vote against Freedom and for
Slavery, but you will vote against your country and for the
Rebellion,--in short, you will give the very vote which Jefferson
Davis would give, were he allowed to vote in Massachusetts. No matter
under what excuse this may be done, no matter by what argument you may
deceive yourselves, no matter what apology you may construct, founded,
perhaps, on personal objections or personal partialities,--it will be
all the same. Your vote will be a vote against Freedom,--ay, Sir, a
vote against your country. Just to the extent of its influence, you
will give aid and comfort to the Rebel enemy, and will prevent the
restoration of Union and Peace.

There can be no third party now, whether in the name of moderation
or in the name of progress,--as there can be no third party between
right and wrong, between good and evil, between the Almighty Throne
and Satan. There can be but two parties here. Choose ye between them.
One is the party of the country, with Abraham Lincoln as its chief,
and with Freedom as its glorious watchword; and the other is the
party of the Rebellion, with Jefferson Davis as its chief, and with
no other watchword than Slavery. As in the choice of Hercules, there
are here before you two roads,--one leading to virtue and renown, the
other leading to crime and shame. Choose ye between them. Vote against
Abraham Lincoln, if you can, or stay at home and sulk, if you will; you
have only, as a next step, to go over to the enemy.

There is now no question of candidates; there is no question of men.
Candidates and men, no matter who, are all insignificant by the side of
the cause. It is the cause we sustain and would bear, as the ark of the
covenant, on our shoulders. Therefore I put aside all that is said of
the two candidates. It would be useless to attempt comparison between
them, although it might appear, that, in those matters where one has
been most criticized, the other is in the same predicament,--that, if
Lincoln is slow, McClellan is slower,--that, if Lincoln has employed
the military arm in the arrest of individuals, McClellan has employed
it in the arrest of a whole Legislature,--and that, if Lincoln drove
Vallandigham out of the Union lines as a penalty for sedition,
McClellan drove the Hutchinsons out of the Union lines as a penalty for
singing songs of Freedom. But why consider these petty personalities?
They divert attention from the single question, “Are you for your
country, or are you for the Rebellion?” [_Applause._]

I have said that there are but two parties. If you would understand
their respective characters and their claims to support, glance,
first, at their history, and then at the principles they have recently

On one side is the Republican party, originally formed to check the
encroachments of Slavery, and especially to save the vast territories
of the Republic, preserving them forever sacred to Freedom. Such a
party, originally formed with such an object and inspired by Freedom,
was the natural defender of the Republic, when Slavery took up arms
against it. To this end it has labored, and to this end it will
continue to labor, until, by the blessing of God, the Union is once
again restored. I call it the Republican party, because that was its
early name; but, for myself, I am indifferent to the name by which you
call me. Let it be Republican, Unionist, or Abolitionist, what you
will, I am with those patriots who stand by their country, seeking its
safety and renown. [_Great applause._]

It is sometimes asked, What has the Republican party done? Look
around, and you will see everywhere what it has done. Its acts are
historic. Slavery and the Black Laws all abolished in the national
capital; Slavery interdicted in all the national territories; Hayti and
Liberia recognized as independent republics in the family of nations;
the foreign slave-trade placed under the ban of a new treaty with Great
Britain; the coastwise slave-trade prohibited forever; all persons in
the military or naval service prohibited from returning slaves; all
Fugitive Slave Acts repealed; the rule excluding colored testimony in
the national courts abolished; and slaves set free in the Rebel States
by Presidential proclamation: such are some of the triumphs of Freedom,
under the auspices of the Republican party. [_Cheers._] But this is
not all. The Pacific Railroad is at last authorized; agricultural
colleges are provided for; homesteads on the public lands are offered
to all actual settlers; while, by special legislation, emigration is
encouraged and organized. But beyond all these measures, any one of
which in other days would have illumined a whole administration, the
National Government, acting in self-defence, with Abraham Lincoln as
its head, has set on foot one of the largest armies of which there
is any authentic record,--has equipped a navy which, in the variety
and completeness of its power, with all modern improvements, may vie
with any in the world,--while, by a most successful financial system,
including banks and credit, it has obtained the unprecedented sums
required for all this enormous preparation.

All this is the work of the Republican party in less than a single
Presidential term. [_Prolonged applause._] It remains for this party
to crown its transcendent labors by completing the triumph of the
Union, and by establishing peace on the indestructible foundation of
human rights. I regard it as an honor to belong to this party, so
great in what it has already accomplished, and greater still in what
it proposes. Other parties have performed their work and perished.
The Republican party will live forever in the gratitude of all who
love Liberty and rejoice in the triumphs of Civilization. Foreign
countries will take up the strain, while the down-trodden and the
oppressed everywhere confess that their burdens have been lifted by an
irresistible influence which we are assembled to advance. [_Applause._]

Against the Republican party, thus patriotic, and already illustrious
by achievements, is arrayed the old Democratic party, galvanized into
new life, and reinforced by members of the old Bell-Everett party who
prefer Bell to Everett. In this strange combination, where Herod and
Pilate are made friends to destroy human freedom, there seems but one
single element of cohesive attraction, and that is Slavery; and these
men all call themselves Democrats.

Pardon the frankness with which I speak: it is needful in order to
disclose the actual character of the Opposition. For a true Democracy,
founded on the rights of man, I have an unfeigned respect; but for
a pretended Democracy, founded on human slavery, and existing only
for this enormous crime, I have no respect. It is an inconsistency
in terms. It is a flat contradiction. It is a cheat and a sham. And
such is the Democracy which here in Massachusetts, headed by Robert
C. Winthrop, now arrays itself against the party of Union, headed by
Edward Everett. But it is plain, that, in pursuing this course, it
follows naturally and simply the traditions of the party.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have exhibited something of the good accomplished by the Republican
party. See now what has been done by the Democratic party, and then say
what evil may not be expected from it.

For years the Democratic party has been the supporter of Slavery,
prompt in yielding to its insatiate demands.

Look at the Rebellion from beginning to end, and you will find it has
been engineered by Democrats.

You cannot forget that James Buchanan, a Democrat, was President,
surrounded by a Democratic Cabinet, while the Rebellion was allowed to
organize and gather strength without interruption.

Wherever you look in the Rebellion, there you find the old Democracy,
into which is absorbed John Bell and his followers, arrayed against
their country.

Look at individuals; you find that the larger half, constituting the
controlling power of the old Democratic party, are now in arms against
their country.

Look at States; you find that all in rebellion were at its outbreak
Democratic States.

Look at the present upholders of the Rebellion, and you find that all,
without exception, most active, were Democrats,--that Jefferson Davis,
the President, so tenacious and uncompromising, was a Democrat,--that
Stephens, the audacious Vice-President, who announced that the
new Government was founded on Slavery as its corner-stone, was an
old Whig turned into a Democrat,--that all the Rebel Cabinet were
Democrats,--that the President of the Rebel Senate and the Speaker of
the Rebel House were Democrats,--that James M. Mason and John Slidell,
the Rebel emissaries in Europe, were Democrats,--that the officers,
who, after obtaining their education at West Point at the public
expense, threw up their commissions and lifted parricidal hands against
their country, Hood, Beauregard, Johnston, Lee, were all Democrats.

Naturally, the Northern associates and allies of these Rebels are
engaged in devising apologies for Rebellion. Naturally, they are
against all energetic measures for its suppression; they call for a
“cessation of hostilities,” and seek to throw over their companions of
other days every possible protection, especially seeking by all means
to save their darling Slavery. But they ought not to find sympathy with
patriot citizens,--especially against the Republican party, which, in
its open and unconditional patriotism, and in all its manifold works,
is in marked contrast with the Democracy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fellow-citizens, in all this vast Union, whether as it was or as it
is, there is not a single Republican in arms against the Government,
or sympathizing with those who are. There is not a traitor among them.
Here is a distinction between the two parties broad as the space
between earth and heaven. [_Great applause._]

I would not confound the innocent with the guilty. I know full well
that among the honest masses there are many, once Democrats, who have
given their lives to their country, and there are some of the old
leaders at the North who have spurned all the traditions of the party.
All honor and gratitude to them! There, also, are our generals,--Grant,
Sherman, Hooker, Butler,--a goodly cluster,--once Democrats, but now
forgetting party and dedicating themselves completely to their country.
But the patriotism of Democrats like these is not an apology for the
Democrat Jefferson Davis, or for his Democratic sympathizers among us,
seeking to arrest the strong blows under which Rebellion reels. I do
not forget, also, that there are good men, who, under misapprehension
of some kind, and without seeing all the bearings of their conduct,
have allowed themselves to be swept into the Democratic ranks. But such
as these can be no cloak to that Democratic party which at Chicago
openly struck hands with Jefferson Davis, and undertook to do for him
what he cannot do for himself.

It is because the Democratic party is at this moment so utterly
mischievous and disloyal, so really dangerous to our country, and so
bitterly hostile to Liberty, that I speak thus plainly. Soft words
will not do in exposing that combination at Chicago, where the two
factions commingled into one. Call them, if you please, Pharisees and
Sadducees. [_Laughter._] They are something more, and something worse,
if possible. They are the unarmed guerrilla bands of Jefferson Davis,
who have stolen into the Free States. I have used this language before.
If I repeat it now, it is because I wish to put you on your guard
against criminal marauders, who, at this moment of peril, are ready to
prey upon their country.

If you would see the difference between the two parties, read the
speeches and resolutions at Baltimore, and then the speeches and
resolutions at Chicago. I have no time for details, even if the
transactions at these two Conventions were not still fresh in the
memory. Suffice it to say that the Convention at Baltimore openly and
frankly pledged all its energies to the suppression of the Rebellion,
and to the utter and complete extirpation of Slavery from the soil of
the Republic, without compromise or hesitation of any kind. This was
noble and patriotic. But nothing of this kind was done at Chicago.

The Chicago platform may be seen in two aspects,--first, in what it
does say, and, secondly, in what it does not say. There are two things
it does say: first, that the war for the suppression of the Rebellion
is a failure; and, secondly, that there should be a cessation of
hostilities. There are two things it does not say: first, it does
not say anything against the Rebellion; and, secondly, it does not
say anything against Slavery. And candidates are nominated on this
platform. In voting for them, you affirm that the war has failed and
that it ought to be stopped, while you decline to say anything against
the Rebellion or against Slavery. You declare that our recent triumphs
were all failures, that Grant failed at Vicksburg, that Sherman failed
at Atlanta, that Farragut failed at New Orleans and Mobile, that
Winslow failed against the Alabama, and that Sheridan failed in the
Valley of the Shenandoah; and you further declare that all these heroes
should be arrested in mid-career, while Democratic agencies take their
place, and rose-water is substituted for cannon-balls. And you declare,
also, that the Rebellion shall prevail, and that Slavery shall continue
to degrade our country and be the seed of interminable war. All this
you affirm and declare by your votes.

If anything were needed to illustrate the offensive character of
this platform, it would be found in the efforts made to get away from
it,--at least in this latitude. Nobody here is willing to trust it.
The cry of the railroad conductor is transferred to politics,--“It is
dangerous to stand on the platform.” [_Laughter._] Nobody has made
greater efforts to get away from it than the Presidential candidate of
the Democracy, who forgets, that, as a candidate, he is born with the
platform, and united to it, as the Siamese twins are united together,
so that the two cannot be separated. As well cut apart Chang and Eng as
cut apart McClellan and Chicago. [_Laughter._] The two must go together.

The letter of McClellan is a specimen of “how not to do it.” This is
the prevailing idea,--how not to stand on the platform, how not to
offend the Rebels, and how not to touch Slavery. It is an ingenious
wriggle and twist; but so far as the writer succeeds in getting off the
platform, it is only to run upon other difficulties,--as from Scylla
to Charybdis. The platform surrenders to the Rebellion; the letter
surrenders to Slavery. But the Rebellion is nothing but belligerent
Slavery; so that surrender to Slavery is surrender to the Rebellion.
The platform discards the Union; but the letter, while professing
a desire for union, discards Emancipation, without which union is
impossible; and while professing a desire for peace, it discards
Liberty, through which alone peace can be secured. The letter says:
“The Union is the one condition of peace: _we ask no more_.” The
Democratic candidate may ask no more; but others do. _I ask more_,
because without more the Union is but a name. I ask more for the sake
of justice and humanity, and that this terrible war may be vindicated
in history. The Baltimore Convention, in its resolutions, _asks
more_. Abraham Lincoln _asks more_. The country takes up the demand
of the Baltimore Convention and of Abraham Lincoln, and _asks more_.

I have said that Abraham Lincoln _asks more_. He has asked it again
and again. He asked it in his Proclamation of the 1st January, 1863,
when, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States,
he ordered and declared that the slaves in the Rebel 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 said persons_.” And he
asked it again, when, in his notice “To whom it may concern,” he
announced that all terms of peace must begin with “the abandonment of
Slavery.”[369] But, in face of these declarations, the candidate of the
Democrats mumbles forth, “The Union is the one condition of peace: _we
ask no more_.”

It is a strange infatuation which imagines that the Rebellion can be
closed without the entire abolition of Slavery. The Rebellion began
with Slavery, and it will end with Slavery. As it began in no other
way, so it can end in no other way. Born from Slavery, it must die with
Slavery. Therefore do I insist that Slavery shall not be spared; for,
in sparing Slavery, you spare the Rebellion itself. [_Applause._]

But even if reason and the necessity of the case did not require the
sacrifice, it is now too late, thank God! By the Proclamation of the
President the freedom of all slaves in the Rebel region is secured
beyond recall. That gift cannot be taken back. It was a saying of
Antiquity, repeated by an exquisite poet of our own day, that “the
gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.” But even if other gifts
may be recalled, the gift of Freedom cannot; for its recall would
be the sacrifice of human rights. Every slave declared free by that
Proclamation is entitled to his freedom as much as you and I. The
President himself, empowered to confer freedom, is impotent to make a
slave. Look at the question as you will, in the light of morals or of
jurisprudence, and the answer is the same. There is the promise of the
Proclamation, by which the public faith of the country is irrevocably
pledged that certain slaves “shall be henceforward free,” and their
freedom shall be “recognized and maintained”; and this promise,
according to morals, cannot be taken back. Still more, according to
jurisprudence, it cannot be taken back; for “Once free, always free” is
a prevailing maxim, and no court, sitting under the Constitution, and
inspired by the Declaration of Independence, can venture to limit or
restrain a proclamation of freedom, made in the exercise of war powers
for the suppression of rebellion. It is vain to say that the slaves
are not now in our power. This is a proper argument for the enemy, but
not for any court of the United States. Every such court refusing to
recognize the act of the President will stultify itself and shock the
judicial conscience of mankind. It is enough that the Proclamation has
declared the slaves free. There is not a slave in the Rebel region
who may not look to it for protection, while it overarches all like
a firmament, which human effort will strive in vain to drag down.

Do you need authority for this principle? Let me read you the emphatic
and well-considered words of Postmaster-General Blair:--

    “The people once slaves in the Rebel States can never again
    be recognized as such by the United States. NO JUDICIAL
    admitted to reënslave a people who are associated with our own
    destinies in this war of defence to save the Government, and
    whose manumission was deemed essential to the restoration and
    preservation of the Union, _and to its permanent peace_.”[370]

This is noble doctrine; and it is none the less noble because from a
member of the Cabinet sometimes supposed to hesitate where Freedom is
in question.

See, then, into what denial of just principles, as well as
inconsistencies, you are led, when you follow the Democratic candidate
in rejecting Freedom as the corner-stone of Union.

But I have said enough. The case is too plain for argument. Let me give
it to you in a nutshell.

A vote for McClellan will be, first and foremost, a vote for Slavery,
at a time when this crime has plunged the country into the sorrow and
waste of war.

It will be, also, a vote for the Rebellion, at a moment when the
Rebellion is nigh to fall.

Also, a vote for Disunion, at a moment when the Union is about to be
made inseparable.

But disunion, when once started, cannot be stopped; so that a vote for
McClellan will be a vote to break this Union in pieces, and to set each
State spinning in space.

It will be a vote for chronic war among fellow-citizens, ever
beginning and never ending, until the fate of Mexico will be ours.

Also, a vote for the repudiation of the national debt, involving the
destruction of property and the overthrow of business.

Also, a vote for anarchy and chaos at home.

Also, a vote for national degradation abroad.

Also, a vote against the civilization of the age.

Also, a vote for the kingdom of Satan on earth.

On the other hand, a vote for Abraham Lincoln will be, first and
foremost, a vote for Freedom, Union, and Peace, that political trinity
under whose guardianship we place the Republic. It will be a vote,
also, to fix the influence and good name of our country, so that
it shall become the pride of history. It will be a vote, also, for
civilization itself. At home it will secure tranquillity throughout
the land, with freedom of travel and of speech, so that the eloquence
of Wendell Phillips may be enjoyed at Richmond and Charleston as at
New York and Boston, and the designation of “Border States,” now
exclusively applicable to interior States, will be removed, so that
our only “Border States” will be on Canada at the North and Mexico
at the South. Doing all this at home, it will do more abroad; for it
will secure the triumph of American institutions everywhere. [_Great

Surely all this is something to vote for. And you will not hesitate.
Forward, then,--in the name of Freedom, Union, and Peace! Crush the
enemy everywhere. Crush him on the field of battle. Crush him at the
ballot-box. And may the November election be the final peal of thunder
which shall clear the sky and fill the heavens with glory! [_Prolonged



    The following speech[371] was delivered by Senator Sumner at
    Cooper Institute, New York, on the afternoon of Saturday,
    November 5, 1864, before one of the largest audiences ever
    assembled within the walls of that capacious hall. By this
    publication, the Young Men’s Republican Union, at whose
    invitation the speech was delivered, brings to a close the
    arduous labors of its third Presidential campaign,--the last of
    a series of political battles, begun, prosecuted, and completed
    in the interest and for the furtherance of the principles so
    nobly and eloquently reasserted in the Massachusetts Senator’s
    last and greatest speech.

    Among the auditors, on this occasion, were at least two hundred
    clergymen, of all denominations, from New York, Brooklyn,
    Newark, and other adjacent cities. Not less than one thousand
    ladies, and an equal number of the most eminent citizens of New
    York, also aided to swell the crowd that assembled to do honor
    to the distinguished orator, and to express the sympathy and
    interest they felt in the great cause in whose behalf he was
    announced to plead.

    Besides Francis Lieber, LL. D., the widely known Professor of
    Political Science in Columbia College, who was chosen Chairman
    of the meeting by acclamation, there were upon the platform
    many of the men and women of New York whose names and deeds in
    various walks of life have illustrated the annals of Freedom’s
    trials and triumphs in America.

    Dr. Lieber, upon taking the chair, made a brief and appropriate
    address, at the close of which he introduced Hon. Edwin D.
    Morgan, who read a telegram, received from San Francisco,
    giving assurance of a Union victory in California: the reading
    of this despatch was hailed with applause and cheers. When
    order had been restored, the Chairman presented the orator of
    the occasion, who was made the recipient of an ovation such as
    has seldom been accorded to a speaker in New York.

    The speech, throughout, was received with every evidence
    of enthusiasm and approval on the part of the vast audience,
    the applause frequently interrupting the speaker for several
    moments, and at times causing the hall to become the scene of
    the wildest excitement. Few of those who were successful in
    securing admission on this occasion will forget the rounds
    of applause, the hearty cheers, the clapping of fair hands,
    and the waving of hundreds of snowy handkerchiefs, by which
    the swarming crowd so often testified its appreciation of Mr.
    Sumner’s scholarly diction, effective eloquence, and patriotic,
    statesmanlike utterance of these great political truths. It
    is but simple truth to say, that none of the many political
    meetings of the campaign, in New York, could at all compare
    with this mass meeting of the flower of our citizenship,
    whether regard be had to the numbers, intelligence, social
    position, or sound sentiments of loyalty, which were the
    characteristics of the great gathering of November 5th, 1864.


FELLOW-CITIZENS,--In all the concerns of life, the first necessity
is to see and comprehend the circumstances about us. Without this
knowledge human conduct must fail. Without this knowledge the machine
cannot be worked, the ground cannot be tilled, the ship cannot be
navigated, war cannot be waged, government cannot be conducted. The old
Greek, suddenly enveloped in a cloud while battling with his enemies,
exclaimed, “Give me to see!”--and this exclamation of the warrior is
the exclamation, also, of every person in practical life, whether
striving for country or only for himself. “Give me to see,” that I may
comprehend my duty. “Give me to see,” that I may recognize my enemy.
“Give me to see,” that I may know where to strike.

The wise physician, before any prescription for his patient,
endeavors, by careful diagnosis, to ascertain the nature of the disease
or injury, and when this is done, he proceeds with confidence. Without
such knowledge all medical skill must fail. You do not forget how it
failed in the recent case of the Italian patriot, Garibaldi, suffering
cruelly from a wound in the foot, received at the unfortunate battle of
Aspromonte, which for a long time nobody seemed to understand. Eminent
surgeons of different countries were at fault. At last Nélaton, the
liberal professor of the Medical School at Paris, leaving pupils and
patients, journeyed into Italy to visit the illustrious sufferer. Other
surgeons said that there was no ball lodged in the foot; the French
surgeon, after careful diagnosis, declared that there was, and at once
extracted it. From that time Garibaldi gained in health and strength,
thanks to his scientific visitor, who was enabled to understand his

Nowhere is diagnosis more important than in national affairs. Men are
naturally patriotic. They love their country with instinctive love,
quickened at the mother’s knee, and nursed in the earliest teachings
of the school. For country they offer fortune and life. But while
thus devoted, they do not always clearly see the line of duty. Local
prejudice, personal antipathy, and selfish interest obscure the vision.
And far beyond all these is the disturbing influence of “party,” with
all the power of discipline and organization added to numbers. Men
attach themselves to a political party as to a religion, and yield
blindly to its behests. By error of judgment, rather than of heart,
they give up to party what was meant for country or mankind. I do not
condemn political parties, but warn against their tyranny. A patriotic
Opposition, watchful of the public service, is hardly less important
than a patriotic Administration. They are the complements of each
other, and, even while in open conflict, unite in duty to country. But
a political party which ceases to be patriotic, which openly takes
sides with Rebellion, which sends up “blue lights” as a signal to an
armed foe, or which subtly undermines those popular energies now needed
for the national defence, that the Republic may live,--such a party is
an engine of frightful evil, to be abhorred as “the gates of hell.” It
is, unhappily, an evil of party always, even in its best estate, that
it tends to dominate over its members, so as to create an oligarchical
power, a sort of _imperium in imperio_, which may overshadow the
Government itself. This influence becomes disastrous beyond measure,
when bad men obtain control or bad ideas prevail. Then must all who are
not ready to forget their country consider carefully the consequences
of their conduct. Adherence to party may leave but one step to treason.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fellow-citizens, I address you as patriots who love their country and
would not willingly see it suffer, who rejoice in its triumphs and
long to behold its flag furled in peace. But it is the nature of true
patriotism to love country most when it is most in peril. As dangers
thicken and skies darken, the patriot soul is roused by internal fire
so that no sacrifice seems too great. And now, when the national life
is assailed by traitors at home, while foreign powers look on with
wicked sympathy, I begin by asking that you should forget “party” and
all its watchwords. Think only of country.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is much misconception, even among well-meaning persons, with
regard to the object of the war, while partisans do not tire of
misrepresenting it. A plain statement will show the truth as it is.

It is often said that the object of the war on our part is simply
to restore the Constitution, and much mystification is employed with
regard to the essential limits of such a contest. Mr. Crittenden’s
resolution, adopted by both Houses of Congress, declared that the war
was “not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, or for any
purpose of conquest or subjugation, _or purpose of overthrowing or
interfering with the rights or established institutions of the Southern
States_,--but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution,
and to preserve the Union, _with all the dignity, equality, and rights
of the several States unimpaired_.”[372] I rejoice to remember that I
did not vote for this resolution. It was unsatisfactory to me at the
time, and is more unsatisfactory now. While plausible in form, it was
in the nature of a snare.

Again, it is said that the object of the war is to abolish Slavery.
This, also, is a mistake, although it is generally urged by those who
seek occasion to criticize the war, and therefore it is in the nature
of misrepresentation. At the beginning of the war, and during its
early stages, Slavery was left untouched, in the enjoyment of peculiar
immunity, such as was accorded to no other Rebel interest. If this
peculiar immunity has been discontinued, it is only because Slavery is
at last seen in its true character, and because its absolute identity
with the Rebellion has come to be recognized.

Not, then, to restore the Constitution, not to abolish Slavery, do we
go forth to battle,--for neither of these,--but simply _to put down
the Rebellion_. It is this, and nothing more. Never in history was
there a war with an object so manifest. If, in the process of putting
down the Rebellion, the Constitution shall be completely restored or
Slavery shall be completely abolished, the war will still be the same
in essential object.

From its origin you will see its true character beyond question.
Certain slave-masters, after long years of conspiracy, rose against
the Republic and struck at its life. The reason assigned for this
parricide was strange as the deed. It was simply because the people
of the United States, by constitutional majority, according to
prescribed forms of law, had elected Abraham Lincoln as President. On
this alleged reason, and to defeat his administration, Rebellion was
organized. You are familiar with the succession of parricidal blows
that ensued. State after State, beginning with South Carolina, always
traitorous, undertook to withdraw from the Union. Their Senators
and Representatives in Congress actually withdrew from the National
Capitol, leaving behind menaces of war. Custom-houses, post-offices,
mints, arsenals, forts, all possessions of the National Government, one
after another, were seized by the Rebel slave-masters. As early as the
1st of January, 1861, while James Buchanan was President, the palmetto
flag was hoisted over the custom-house and post-office at Charleston.
Already it had been hoisted over Castle Pinckney and Fort Moultrie in
the harbor of Charleston, while the national force allowed in these
fortresses surrendered to Rebel slave-masters. This was followed by
the seizure of Fort Pulaski at Savannah, Fort Morgan at Mobile, Fort
Jackson and Fort St. Philip at New Orleans, Fort Barrancas and Fort
McRae with the navy-yard at Pensacola. Throughout that whole Rebel
region two fortresses only remained to the National Government: these
were Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens. The steamer Star of the West,
bearing reinforcements to the small garrison cooped in Fort Sumter,
was fired at in the harbor of Charleston, and compelled to put back
discomfited. This was war. Meanwhile the Rebel States had taken the
form of a confederacy, with Slavery as corner-stone, and proceeded to
organize an immense military force in the service of the Rebellion. At
last, after long-continued preparations, the Rebel batteries opened
upon Fort Sumter, which, after a defence of thirty-four hours, was
compelled to surrender. There was rejoicing at the Rebel capital,
and the Rebel Secretary of War, addressing an immense audience, let
drop words which reveal the true character of the war. “No man,” said
he, “can tell where the war this day commenced will end; but I will
prophesy that the flag which now flaunts the breeze here will float
over the dome of the old Capitol at Washington before the 1st of May.
Let them try _Southern chivalry_ and test the extent of Southern
resources, and it may float eventually over Faneuil Hall itself.”[373]
It was already the 12th of April, and the Rebel flag was to float over
the National Capitol before the 1st of May. It was time that something
should be done in self-defence. Not only the National Capitol, but
Faneuil Hall, was menaced, while the boast of “Southern chivalry” went

Thus far the National Government had done nothing, absolutely nothing.
It had received blow after blow; it had seen its possessions, one
after another, wrested from its control; it had seen State after
State assume the front of Rebellion; it had seen the whole combined
in a pseudo-confederacy, with a Rebel President surrounded by a Rebel
Cabinet and a Rebel Congress; and it had bent under a storm of shot and
shell from Rebel batteries. At last it spoke, calling the country to
arms. Search history, and you can find no instance of equal audacity on
the part of rebels, and no instance of equal forbearance on the part of

The country was called to arms. Nobody can forget that day, when the
people everywhere, inspired by patriotic ardor, rose in _necessary
self-defence_ to save the National Capitol and Faneuil Hall, already
menaced. For the Rebellion the war had begun long before; but for the
country it began only at that great uprising, when all seemed filled
with one generous purpose, and nobody hesitated. Men calling themselves
Democrats vied with Republicans. Daniel S. Dickinson and Benjamin
F. Butler made haste to join their country. Party differences were
forgotten as the tocsin sounded.

It was the tocsin summoning the country to defend itself. The war then
and there recognized was, on our part, a war of national defence,
and its simple object was to put down the Rebellion. You confuse
yourself, if you say that it was to restore the Constitution; and you
misrepresent the fact, if you say that it was to abolish Slavery. It
was for the suppression of the Rebellion,--nor more, nor less.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, then, fellow-citizens, it becomes important to know and
comprehend the Rebellion, and especially its animating impulse, or
soul. From the beginning, its diagnosis has been essential to the
right conduct of the war; and if at any time the war seems to fail,
or foreign powers seem to lower, it is because our Government has
not recognized the true character of the Rebellion. “Give me to
see,” is the exclamation of every patriot, that our blows may not
fail. To all familiar with history it was obvious, at once, that
this Rebellion stood out in bad eminence, unlike any other of which
we have authentic record; that it was not a dynastic struggle, as in
the adventurous expeditions of the British Pretender; that it was not
a religious struggle, as in the French wars of the League; that it
was not a struggle against a conqueror, as in the repeated outbreaks
of Ireland; that it was not a struggle for Freedom, like that of
Switzerland against Austria, of Holland against Spain, of our fathers
against England, of the Spanish-American States against Spain, and
of Greece against Turkey; that it had in it none of these elements,
whether dynasty, religion, or freedom: for it was simply a struggle for
Slavery, and so completely had Slavery entered into and possessed it
that the Rebellion was changed to itself. If you would find a parallel
to this transcendent wickedness, you must pass “the flaming bounds of
place and time,” and look on that earliest Rebellion, when Satan strove
against the Almighty Throne to establish the supremacy of Sin, even
as now this insensate Rebellion strives to establish the supremacy of
Slavery. It is because partisans have failed to see the true character
of the Rebellion, or been unwilling to recognize it, that they do not
feel how absurd it is to say that the war on our part has been changed,
when nothing has been done but to recognize the identity between
Slavery and the Rebellion. There has been no change. It is still a war
to put down the Rebellion; but we are in earnest, and are determined
that the Rebellion shall not save itself by skulking under the _alias_
of Slavery. Call it Rebellion or call it Slavery, it is one and the

A glance at the immediate origin of this war is enough for the present
occasion. But to dispel all darkness, and to determine our duty, let
me take you, for a few moments, back to the distant origin of the two
elemental forces now in deadly conflict.

Looking at the question abstractly, these two elemental forces are
nothing but Slavery and Liberty. It is superfluous to add that these
are natural enemies, and cannot exist together. Where Slavery is, there
Liberty cannot be; and where Liberty is, there Slavery cannot be. To
uphold Slavery, there must be uncompromising denial of Liberty; to
uphold Liberty, there must be uncompromising denial of Slavery. Each,
in self-defence, must stifle the other. Therefore between the two
is constant hostility and undying hate. This eternal warfare is not
peculiar to our country. It belongs to the nature of universal man. If
it fails to show itself anywhere, it is because Slavery has won its
most detestable triumph, and blotted out the Heaven-born sentiment of
Freedom. Circumstances among us, going back to our earliest history,
have given unprecedented activity to these two incompatible principles,
and have at last brought them into bloody battle, face to face. But it
is only part of the universal conflict which must endure so long as a
single slave shall wear a chain. Slavery itself is _a state of war_,
ready to burst forth in blood, whenever the slave reclaims that liberty
which is his right, or whenever mankind refuses to sanction its inhuman

Go back to the earliest days of Colonial history, and you will find
the conflict already preparing. It was in 1620 that twenty slaves were
landed at Jamestown, in Virginia,--the first that ever pressed the soil
of our country. In that same year the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
Those two cargoes contained the hostile germs which have ripened in
our time. They fitly symbolize our gigantic strife. On one side is the
slave-ship, and on the other is the Mayflower. Early events derive
importance as we learn to recognize their undoubted consequences, and
these two ships will be regarded with additional interest when it is
seen that in them were the beginnings of the present war.

Perhaps, in all the romantic legends of the sea, there is nothing more
striking than the contrast of these two vessels. Each had ventured upon
an untried and perilous ocean to find an unknown and distant coast. In
this they were alike; but in all else how unlike! One was freighted
with human beings forcibly torn from their own country, and hurried
away in chains to be sold as slaves: the other was filled with good
men, who had voluntarily turned their backs upon their own country,
to seek other homes, where at least they might be free. One was heavy
with curses and with sorrow: the other was lifted with anthem and with
prayer. And thus, at the same time, beneath the same sun, over the same
waves, each found its solitary way. By no effort of imagination do we
see on one Slavery and on the other Liberty, traversing the ocean to
continue here, on this broad continent, their perpetual, immitigable

I am not alone in homage to the Mayflower. Others have delighted to
picture her, and none with more of that consummate art which makes
us see the petty craft transfigured by the divine cargo than an
illustrious contemporary.

    “Hail to thee, poor little ship Mayflower, of Delft-Haven!
    poor, common-looking ship, hired by common charter-party for
    coined dollars; calked with mere oakum and tar; provisioned
    with vulgarest biscuit and bacon: yet what ship Argo, or
    miraculous epic ship built by the Sea-Gods, was other than
    a foolish bumbarge in comparison? Golden fleeces, or the
    like, these sailed for, with or without effect: thou, little
    Mayflower, hadst in thee a veritable Promethean spark, the
    life-spark of the largest nation on our earth,--so we may
    already name the Transatlantic Saxon Nation.”[374]

There is no record of what passed on board the slave-ship, before
the landing of the slaves. The wail of Slavery, the clank of chains,
and the voice of the master counting his cargo, there must have been.
But the cabin of the Mayflower witnessed another scene, of which
there is authentic record, as the whole company, by solemn compact,
deliberately constituted themselves a body politic, and set the
grand example of a Christian Commonwealth,[375]--thus indicating the
character which they had claimed for themselves, as “knit together as
a body in a most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of
the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof
we do hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other’s good,
and of the whole by every one, and so mutually.”[376] And so these two
voyages closed; but the two cargoes have endured, surviving successive

The early social life of the two warring sections attests the
prevailing influence. Virginia continued to be supplied with slaves,
so that Slavery became part of herself. On the other hand, New England
always set her face against Slavery. To her great honor, in an age when
Slavery was less condemned than now, the Legislature of Massachusetts
censured a ship-master who had “fraudulently and injuriously taken and
brought a negro from Guinea,” and by solemn vote resolved that the
negro should be “sent back without delay”;[377] and not long after
enacted the law of Exodus, “If any man stealeth a man or man-kind,
he shall surely be put to death.”[378] Thus at that early day stood
Virginia and New England: for such, at that time, was the designation
of the two provinces which divided British America by a line of
demarcation very nearly coïncident with the recent slave-line of our

The contrast appears equally in the opposite character of their
respective settlers. Like seeks like, and the Pilgrims of the Mayflower
were followed by others of similar virtues, whose first labors on
landing were to build churches and schools. Many of them had the best
education of England; some were men of substance, and there was no
poverty among them that could cause a blush; while all were most exact
and exemplary in conduct. They were a branch from that grand Puritan
stock, to which, according to the reluctant confession of Hume, “the
English owe the whole freedom of their Constitution.”[379] We are told
by Burke that there is a sacred veil to be drawn over the beginnings
of all governments, and that, where this is not happily supplied by
time, it must be found in a discreet silence. But no veil is needed
for the Puritan settlers of New England. It is very different with the
early settlers of Virginia, recruited from the castaways and shirks of
Old England, and mostly needy men, of desperate fortunes and dissolute
lives, who cared nothing for churches or schools. Such naturally became
slave-lords. I should not lift the veil which charity would kindly
draw, if a just knowledge of their character had not become important
in illustrating the origin of our troubles.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a common boast of these slave-lords that they constitute a
modern “chivalry,” derived from the “Cavaliers” of England, and
reinforced by the “ennobling” influences of African Slavery.[380]
This boast has been so often repeated, that it has obtained a certain
acceptance among those not familiar with our early history, and even
well-informed persons allow themselves to say that the conflict in
which we are now engaged is a continuance of the old war between
Cavalier and Roundhead. So far as it is intended to say that the war is
part of the ever-recurring conflict between Slavery and Liberty, there
is no objection to this illustration. But if it be intended that the
Rebels are cavaliers, or descendants of cavaliers, there is just ground
of objection. I know not if the armies of the Union, now fighting
the world’s greatest battle for Human Rights, may not be called
“Roundheads”; but I am sure that Rebels now fighting for Slavery cannot
be called “Cavaliers” in any sense. They are not so in character, as
their barbarism attests; and they are as little so historically.

The whole pretension is a preposterous absurdity, by which the country
has been too much deceived. It is not creditable to the general
intelligence that such a folly should play such a part. Unquestionably
there were settlers in Virginia, as there were also in New England,
connected with aristocratic families. But in each colony they were too
few to modify essentially the prevailing population, which took its
character from the mass rather than from any individual. The origin of
Virginia is so well authenticated as to leave little doubt with regard
to its population, unless you reject all the concurrent testimony of
contemporaries and all the concurrent admissions of historians. There
is nothing in our early history with regard to which authorities are
so various and so clear. From their very abundance, it is difficult to

The original “Cavaliers” were English; but it is an historical fact
that the Rebel colonies were not settled exclusively from England.
The blood of Scotch, Irish, Dutch, Germans, Swiss, French, and Jews
commingled there, all of which is amply attested. Huguenots of France,
cruelly banished by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, found a
home in both the Carolinas. William Gilmore Simms, the novelist of
South Carolina, in a history of his native State, after mentioning the
arrival of the Huguenots, says: “Emigrants followed, though slowly,
from Switzerland, Germany, and Holland; and the Santee, the Congaree,
the Wateree, and Edisto now listened to the strange voices of several
nations, who in the Old World had scarcely known each other, except
as foes.”[381] From Hewit’s “Historical Account of South Carolina,”
published in 1779, we have details of settlement by Dutch, French,
Swiss, Scotch, and Germans, followed by the remark, “But of all other
countries none has furnished the province with so many inhabitants as
Ireland.”[382] A similar story is told of North Carolina.[383] Here
is nothing of the boasted “chivalry”; and if we search the testimony
with regard to the character and condition of these early settlers,
the whole “cavalier” pretension becomes still more improbable, if not

Even before English colonization had begun, and before Sir Walter
Raleigh or Captain John Smith had landed on our coasts, the “temperate
and fertile parts of America” had been proposed as a substitute for the
prison and gibbet. I quote from a Dedicatory Epistle of Richard Hakluyt
“to the right worshipful and most virtuous Gentleman, Master Philip
Sydney, Esquire.”

    “Yea, if we would behold with the eye of pity how all our
    prisons are pestered and filled with able men to serve their
    country, which for small robberies are daily hanged up in great
    numbers, even twenty at a clap out of one jail (as was seen at
    the last assizes at Rochester), we would hasten and further,
    every man to his power, the deducting of some colonies of our
    superfluous people into those temperate and fertile parts of
    America, which, being within six weeks’ sailing of England, are
    yet unpossessed by any Christians, and seem to offer themselves
    unto us, stretching nearer unto her Majesty’s dominions than to
    any other part of Europe. We read that the bees, when they grow
    to be too many in their own hives at home, are wont to be led
    out by their captains to swarm abroad, and seek themselves a
    new dwelling-place.”[385]

This recommendation, associated with the names of Hakluyt and Sydney,
was followed,--with what success you shall know.

       *       *       *       *       *

I begin with the early patron of Virginia, Lord Delaware, who, after
visiting the colony, described the people there, in a letter dated at
Jamestown, July 7, 1610, as “men of distempered bodies and infected
minds, whom no examples daily before their eyes, either of goodness or
punishment, can deter from their habitual impieties or terrify from a
shameful death.”[386] Little of chivalry here!

The colony, which began with bad men, was increased by worse. In
November, 1619, King James wrote to the Virginia Company, “commanding
them forthwith to send away to Virginia an hundred dissolute persons,
which Sir Edward Zouch, the Knight Marshal, would deliver to
them.”[387] Thus by royal command was this colony made a Botany Bay.

The Company, not content with the “hundred dissolute persons” supplied
by the king’s order, entreated for more, until Captain John Smith, the
hero of Virginia, was moved to express his disgust. He testified to the
evil, when he wrote in 1622: “Since I came from thence, the Honorable
Company have been humble suitors to his Majesty _to get vagabond and
condemned men_ to go thither; nay, so much scorned was the name of
Virginia, _some did choose to be hanged, ere they would go thither, and
were_.”[388] This was bad enough.

But the Virginia Company was insensible to the shame of such a
settlement. Its agents and orators vindicated the utility of the
colony. In a work entitled “_Nova Britannia_, offering most Excellent
Fruits by Planting in Virginia,” published in London in 1609, and
dedicated to “one of his Majesty’s Council for Virginia,” it was
openly argued, that, unless “swarms of idle persons in lewd and
naughty practices” were sent abroad, “we must provide shortly _more
prisons and corrections_ for their bad conditions”; and that it was
“most profitable for our state to rid our multitudes of such as lie
at home, pestering the land with pestilence and penury, and infecting
one another with vice and villany, worse than the plague itself.”[389]
Dr. Donne, Dean of St. Paul’s, poet also, in a sermon “preached to
the Honorable Company of the Virginian Plantation, November 30th,
1622,” thus sets forth the merits of the colony: “The plantation shall
redeem many a wretch from the jaws of death, from the hands of the
executioner.… _It shall sweep your streets and wash your doors from
idle persons_ and the children of idle persons, and employ them.”[390]
Such were the puffs by which recruits were gained for Virginia.

History records the unquestionable result, and here authorities
multiply. Sir Josiah Child, in his “Discourse of Trade,” published in
1694, says: “_Virginia_ and Barbadoes were _first peopled_ by a sort
of loose, vagrant people, vicious, and destitute of means to live at
home, … such as, had there been no English foreign plantation in the
world, could probably never have lived at home to do service to their
country, but must have come to be hanged or starved, or died untimely
of some of those miserable diseases that proceed from want and vice,
or else have sold themselves for soldiers, to be knocked on the head
or starved in the quarrels of our neighbors.”[391] Dr. Douglass, in
his “British Settlements in North America,” printed in 1749, is very
positive, saying, “Virginia and Maryland have been for many years,
and continue to be, a sink for transported criminals.”[392] “Our
plantations in America, _New England excepted_, have been generally
settled, (1.) by malcontents with the Administrations from time to
time; (2.) by fraudulent debtors, as a refuge from their creditors;
(3.) and by convicts or criminals, who chose transportation rather
than death.”[393] Grahame, the Scotch historian, who has written so
conscientiously of our country, speaking of the first settlers, says
of Virginia: “A great proportion of the new emigrants consisted of
profligate and licentious youths, sent from England by their friends,
with the hope of changing their destinies, or for the purpose of
screening them from the justice or contempt of their country, … with
others like these, more likely to corrupt and prey upon an infant
commonwealth than to improve or sustain it.”[394] The historian of
Virginia, William Stith, whose work was published at Williamsburg in
the last century, is not less explicit. “I cannot but remark,” he
says, “how early that custom arose of transporting loose and dissolute
persons to Virginia, as a place of punishment and disgrace, which,
although originally designed for the advancement and increase of the
colony, yet has certainly proved a great prejudice and hindrance to
its growth; for it hath laid one of the finest countries in British
America under the unjust scandal of being _a mere hell upon earth_,
another Siberia, and only fit for the reception of malefactors and the
vilest of the people; so that few people, at least few large bodies of
people, have been induced willingly to transport themselves to such a
place, and our younger sisters, the Northern Colonies, have accordingly
profited thereby.”[395] But this is not all. Another historian of
Virginia, of our own day, whose work was published at Richmond in 1848,
while showing that pride in his State which would change every settler
into a “cavalier,” is compelled to make the following most rueful
confession: “Gentlemen, reduced to poverty by gaming and extravagance,
too proud to beg, too lazy to dig; broken tradesmen, with some stigma
of fraud yet clinging to their names; footmen, who had expended in the
mother country the last shred of honest reputation they had ever held;
rakes, consumed with disease and shattered in the service of impurity;
libertines, whose race of sin was yet to run; and unruly sparks, packed
off by their friends to escape worse destinies at home: these were the
men who came to aid in founding a nation, and to transmit to posterity
their own immaculate impress.”[396] And this same historian confesses
that social life in Virginia, beginning in such baseness, after more
than a century, had developed “an aristocracy neither of talent nor
learning nor moral worth, but of landed and slave interest.”[397] So
much for the testimony of history, even when written and printed in
Virginia. In harmony with this testimony was the honest exclamation
of a Virginian in 1751: “In what can Britain show a more sovereign
contempt for us than by emptying their jails into our settlements,
unless they would likewise empty their jakes on our tables?”[398]

I know not the number of desperate persons shipped to Virginia; but
there were enough to leave an indelible impress on the colony, and
to give it a name in the literature of the time. It was this colony
which suggested to Bacon the most pregnant words of one of his Essays,
which furnished to De Foe several striking passages in one of his
romances, which furnished a confirmatory article in the Dictionary of
Postlethwayt, and which provoked Massinger to a dialogue in one of his
dramas. Glance for a moment at these illustrations.

It is in the Essay on “Plantations” that Bacon thus brands the early
settlement of Virginia: “It is a shameful and unblessed thing to take
_the scum of people and wicked condemned men_ to be the people with
whom you plant; and not only so, but it _spoileth the plantation_, for
they will ever live like rogues.” Surely there is nothing in this out
of which to construct a “cavalier.”

In the narrative of Moll Flanders, the author of “Robinson Crusoe,”
who gives to all his sketches such life-like character that they seem
to be sun-pictures, exhibits this same colony. Here is a glimpse. “The
greatest part of the inhabitants of that colony came thither in very
indifferent circumstances from England. Generally speaking, they were
of two sorts: either, first, such as were brought over by masters of
ships to be sold as servants; or, second, such as are transported,
after having been found guilty of crimes punishable with death. When
they come here, we make no difference; the planters buy them, and
they work together in the field till their time is out.… Hence many a
Newgate bird becomes a great man; and we have several justices of the
peace, officers of the trained bands, and magistrates of the towns they
live in, that have been burnt in the hand.… Some of the best men in
the country are burnt in the hand, and they are not ashamed to own it.
There’s Major ----, he was an eminent pickpocket; there’s Justice
Ba----r, was a shoplifter; and both of them were burnt in the hand; and
I could name you several such as they are.”[399] Nothing is said here
of “cavaliers.”

The author of the “Dictionary of Commerce,” quoted often in courts,
confirms the testimony of Moll Flanders, when he says: “Even your
transported felons, sent to Virginia instead of Tyburn, thousands
of them, if we are not misinformed, have, by turning their hands to
industry and improvement, and, which is best of all, to honesty, become
rich, substantial planters and merchants, settled large families,
and been famous in the country; nay, we have seen many of them made
magistrates, officers of militia, captains of good ships, and masters
of good estates.”[400] Here, again, is nothing said of “cavaliers.”

Another writer, who travelled through the colonies in 1742-3, says, in
the same vein, that “several of the best planters, or their ancestors,
have in the two colonies [Virginia and Maryland] been originally of the
convict class, and therefore are much to be praised and esteemed for
forsaking their old courses.”[401]

While all this cumulative evidence shows that the settlers did better
in Virginia than in England, it fails to support the Rebel pretension
of to-day.

I have referred to Massinger. Here is a curious bit from a grave comedy
of that poet dramatist.

    “_Luke._ It is but to Virginia.

    “_Lady Frugal._ How? Virginia?
    High Heaven forbid! Remember, Sir, I beseech you,
    What creatures are shipped thither.

    “_Anne._ Condemned wretches,
    Forfeited to the law.

    “_Mary._ For the abomination of their life,
    Spewed out of their own country.”[402]

Thus from every quarter the testimony accumulates. And yet, in face of
these impartial and unimpeachable authorities, we are constantly told
that Virginia was settled by “cavaliers.”

The territory now occupied by South Carolina originally constituted
part of Virginia. Out of Virginia it was carved into a separate colony.
Although differing in some respects, the populations seem to have
been kindred in character. Ramsay, the historian of the State, in a
work published at Charleston in 1809, says that “the emigrants were a
medley of different nations and principles,” and that among them were
persons “who took refuge from the frowns of Fortune and the rigor of
creditors,” “young men reduced to misery by folly and excess,” and
“restless spirits, fond of roving.” To these were added Huguenots from
France.[403] But Grahame tells us that “not a trace of the existence
of an order of clergymen is to be found in the laws of Carolina during
the first twenty years of its history.”[404] And another historian says
that “the inhabitants, far from living in friendship and harmony among
themselves, have been seditious and ungovernable.”[405] Such a people
were naturally insensible to moral distinctions, so that, according to
Hewit, pirates “were treated with great civility and friendship,” and
“by bribery and corruption they often found favor with the provincial
juries, and by this means escaped the hands of justice.” All of which
is declared by the historian to be “evidences of the licentious spirit
which prevailed in the colony.”[406] Grahame uses still stronger
language, when he says, “The governor, the proprietary deputies, and
the principal inhabitants degraded themselves to a level with the
vilest of mankind by abetting the crimes of pirates, and willingly
purchasing their nefarious acquisitions.”[407] Such is the testimony
with regard to South Carolina. To call such a people “cavaliers” is an
abuse of terms.

I hope I do not take too much time in exposing a vainglorious
pretension, which has helped to give the Rebellion a character of
respectability it does not deserve. I dismiss it to general contempt,
as one of the lies by which Slavery, the greatest lie of all, is
recommended to the weak who can be deceived by names. But you will not
fail to remark how naturally Slavery flourished among such a congenial
people. Convicts and wretches who had set at nought all rights of
property and all decency were the very people to set up the revolting
pretension “of property in man.” If these were called “cavaliers,” and
if their conduct was called “chivalry,” it was only under the ancient
rule of opposites, because they were in no respect “cavaliers,” nor had
they even the semblance of “chivalry.”

Not in Slavery or its battles is “chivalry” found, not in vain
pretension, not in any indignity to the poor and lowly. From one who
has studied it in its deeds, we learn that it is “that general spirit
or state of mind which disposes men to heroic and generous actions, and
keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the
intellectual and moral world.”[408] How little of this in our Rebel

       *       *       *       *       *

I come back to the postulate with which I began, that the present
war is simply a conflict between Slavery and Liberty. This is a plain
statement, which will defy contradiction. To my mind it is more
satisfactory than that other statement, often made, that it is a
conflict between Aristocracy and Democracy. This in a certain sense
is true; but from its generality it is less effective than the more
precise and restricted statement. It does not disclose the whole truth;
for it does not exhibit the unique and exceptional character of the
pretension which we combat. For centuries there has been a conflict
between Aristocracy and Democracy, or, in other words, the few on one
side have been perpetually striving to rule and oppress the many. But
now, for the first time in the world’s annals, a people professing
civilization has commenced war to uphold the intolerable pretension of
_compulsory labor without wages_, and that most disgusting coïncident,
the whipping of women and the selling of children. Call these
pretenders aristocrats or oligarchs, if you will; but be assured that
their aristocracy or oligarchy is the least respectable ever attempted,
and is so entirely modern that it is antedated by the Durham bull
Hubbuck, short-horn progenitor of the oligarchy of cattle, and by the
stallion Godolphin, Arabian progenitor of the oligarchy of horses, each
of which may be traced to the middle of the last century. And also
know, that, if you would find a prototype in brutality, you must turn
your back upon civilized history, and repair to those distant islands
which witnessed an oligarchy of cannibals, or go to barbarous Africa,
which has been kept in barbarism by an oligarchy of men-stealers.

Thus it stands. The conflict is directly between Slavery and Liberty.
But because Slavery aims at the life of the Republic, the issue
involves our national existence; and because our national death would
be the despair of Liberty everywhere, it involves this great cause
throughout the world. And so I would not for one moment lose sight of
the special enemy; for our energies can be properly directed only when
we are able to confront him. “Give me to see!” said the old Greek; and
this must be our exclamation now.

       *       *       *       *       *

Slavery, from the beginning, has been a disturber, as it is now a
red-handed traitor. I do not travel back before the Revolution, but,
starting from that great event, I show you Slavery always offensive,
and forever thrusting itself in the path of national peace and honor.
The Declaration of Independence, as originally prepared by Jefferson,
contained a vigorous passage denouncing King George for patronage of
the slave-trade. The slave-masters insisted upon striking it out, and
it was struck out; and here was their first victory. At the adoption
of the National Constitution, they insisted upon recognition of the
slave-trade as a condition of Union; and here was another victory. In
the earliest Congress under the Constitution they commenced the menace
of disunion, and this menace was continued at every turn of public
affairs, especially at every proposition or even petition touching
Slavery, until it triumphed signally in that atrocious Fugitive Slave
Bill which made all the Free States a hunting-ground for slaves.
Throughout these contests Slavery was vulgar, brutal, savage, while its
braggart orators and chaplains heralded its claims. Hogarth, in his
famous picture of Bruin, painted Slavery, when he portrayed an immense
grizzly bear hugging, as if he loved it, an enormous gnarled bludgeon,
with a brand of infamy labelled on every knot, such as _Lie Twelve_,
_Lie Fifteen_, and about his throat a clerical band, torn, crumpled,
and awry. In the States where it flourished speech and press were both
despoiled of freedom, and the whole country seemed to be fast sinking
under its degrading tyranny. Everything in science, or history, or
church, or state, was bent to its support. There was a new political
economy, teaching the superiority of slave labor,--a new ethnology,
excluding the slave from the family of man,--a new heraldry, admitting
the slavemonger to the list of nobles,--a new morality, vindicating
the rightfulness of Slavery,--a new religion, recognizing Slavery as
a missionary enterprise,--a new theodicy, placing Slavery under the
sanctions of Divine benevolence,--and a new Constitution, installing
Slavery in the very citadel of Liberty. By such strange inventions
the giant felony fortified itself. At last it struck the pioneers of
Liberty in Kansas. There was its first battle. The next was when it
took up arms against the National Government, and rallied all its
forces in bloody rebellion. Thus is this Rebellion, by unquestionable
pedigree, derived from Slavery, and the parent lives in the offspring.

Therefore, if you are in earnest against the Rebellion, you must be
in earnest, also, against Slavery; for the two are synonymous, or
convertible terms. The Rebellion is nothing but belligerent Slavery. It
is Slavery armed and equipped in deadly grapple with Liberty.

Only when we see the Rebellion _as it is_, in its true light, face to
face, do we see our whole duty. Then must the patriot, whatever his
personal prejudices or party associations, insist, at all hazards, that
Slavery shall not be suffered to escape from that righteous judgment
which is the doom of the Rebellion. No false tenderness, no casuistry
of politics, must intrude to save it anywhere; for you cannot save
Slavery anywhere without just to that extent saving the Rebellion. Show
me anywhere a sympathiser with Slavery, and I show you a sympathiser
with the Rebellion.

Our duty is clear. In the sacred service of patriotism nothing can be
allowed to stand in the way. Fortress, camp, citadel, each and all,
must be overcome; but the animating soul of every fortress, camp, or
citadel throughout the Rebellion is Slavery. Surely, when the country
is in danger, there can be no hesitation. And as the greater contains
the less, so this greatest charity of country embraces for the time all
other charities.

In striking at Slavery, there is another advantage not to be forgotten.
Such a blow is in strict obedience to the laws of Nature; and we
are reminded by the great master of thought, Lord Bacon, that only
through such obedience can victory be won,--_vincit parendo_. It is in
conformity, also, with all the attributes of God; so that His Almighty
arm will give strength to the blow. Thus do we bring our efforts in
harmony with the sublime laws, physical and moral, which govern the
universe, while every good influence, every breath of Heaven, and every
prayer of man, is on our side. We also bring ourselves in harmony with
our own Declaration of Independence, so that all its early promises
become a living letter, and our country is at last saved from that
practical inconsistency which has been a heavy burden in her history.

To do all this seems so natural and so entirely according to the
dictates of patriotism, that we may well be astonished that it
should meet opposition. But there is a wide-spread political party,
which, true to its history, now comes forward to save belligerent
Slavery,--even at this last moment, when it is about to be trampled out
forever. Not to save the country, but to save belligerent Slavery, is
the object of the misnamed Democracy. Asserting the war, in which so
much has been done, to be a failure,--forgetting the vast spaces it has
already reclaimed, the rivers it has opened, the ports it has secured,
and the people it has redeemed,--handing over to contempt officers and
men, living and dead, who have waged its innumerable battles,--this
political party openly offers surrender to the Rebellion. I do not use
too strong language. It is actual surrender and capitulation that are
offered, in one of two forms: (1.) by acknowledging the Rebel States,
so that they shall be treated as independent; or (2.) by acknowledging
Slavery, so that it shall be restored to its old supremacy over the
National Government, with additional guaranties. The different schemes
of opposition are all contained in one or the other of these two

Examining these two propositions, we find them equally flagitious and
impracticable. Both allow the country to be sacrificed for the sake
of Slavery: one by breaking the Union in pieces, that a new Slave
Power may be created; and the other by continuing the Union, so that
the old Slave Power may enjoy its sway and masterdom. Both pivot on
Slavery. One acknowledges the Slave Power _out of the Union_; the other
acknowledges the Slave Power _in the Union_.

Glance, if you please, at these two different forms of surrender.


_And, first, of surrender by acknowledging the Rebel States_, so that
they shall be independent. How futile to think that there can be any
consent to the establishment of a Slave Power taken from our Republic!
Such a surrender would begin in shame; but it would also begin,
continue, and end in troubles and sorrows which no imagination can

       *       *       *       *       *

1. I do not dwell on the shame that would cover our Republic, but I
ask, on the threshold, how you would feel in abandoning to the tender
mercies of the Rebellion all those who, from sentiment or conviction
or condition, now look to the National Government as deliverer. This
topic, it seems to me, has not been sufficiently impressed upon the
country. Would that I could make it sink deep into your souls! There
are the Unionists, shut up within the confines of the Rebellion, and
unable to help themselves. They can do nothing, not even cry out, until
the military power of the Rebellion is crushed. Let this be done, let
the Rebel grip be unloosed, and you will hear their voices, as joyously
and reverently they hail the national flag. And there, also, are the
slaves, to whom the Rebellion is an immense, deep-moated, thick-walled,
heavy-bolted Bastile, where a whole race is blinded, manacled, and
outraged. But these, again, are powerless, so long as Rebel sentinels
keep watch and ward over them. To these two classes in the Rebel States
we have owed, from the beginning, a solemn duty, which can be performed
only by perseverance to the end. The patriot Unionists, who have kept
their loyalty in solitude and privation, like the early Christians
concealed in catacombs, and also the slaves, who have been compelled to
serve their cruel taskmasters, must not be sacrificed.

Perhaps there is no character in which the National Government may
exult more truly than that of Deliverer. Rarely in history has such a
duty, with its attendant glory, been so clearly imposed. The piety of
early ages found vent in the Crusades, those wonderful enterprises of
valor and travel, which exercised a transforming influence over modern
civilization. But our war is not less important. It is a crusade, not
to deliver the tomb, but to deliver the living temples of the Lord, and
it is destined to exercise a transforming influence beyond any crusade
in history.

       *       *       *       *       *

2. If you agree to abandon patriots and slaves in the Rebel States,
you will only begin your infinite difficulties. How determine the
boundary-line to cleave this continent in twain? Where shall the god
Terminus plant his stone? What States shall be left at the North in
the light of Liberty? What States shall be consigned to the gloom
of Slavery? Surely no swiftness of surrender can make you abandon
Maryland, now redeemed by votes of citizen soldiers,--nor West
Virginia, received as a Free State,--nor Missouri, which has been made
the dark and bloody ground. And how about Kentucky, Tennessee, and
Louisiana? There also is the Mississippi, once more free from source
to sea. Surely this mighty river will not be compelled again to wear

These inquiries simply open the difficulties in this endeavor. If
there were any natural boundary, in itself a barrier and an altar, or
if during long generations any Chinese wall had been built for three
thousand miles across the continent, then perhaps there might be a
dividing line. But Nature and civilization, by solemn decree, have
fixed it otherwise, marking this broad land, from Northern lake to
Southern gulf, for one Country, with one Liberty, one Constitution, and
one Destiny.

       *       *       *       *       *

3. If the boundary-line is settled, then will arise the many-headed
question of terms and conditions. On what terms and conditions can
peace be stipulated? Exulting Rebels, whose new empire is founded
on the corner-stone of Slavery, will naturally exact promises for
the rendition of fugitive slaves. Are you, who have just emancipated
yourselves from this obligation, ready to renew it, and to commit
again an inexpiable crime? If you do not, how can you expect peace?
Then it will remain to determine the commercial relations between the
two separate governments, with rights of transit and travel. If you
think that Rebels, flushed with success, and scorning their defeated
opponents, will come to any practical terms, any terms which will not
leave our commerce and all engaged in it victims of outrage, you place
trust in their moderation which circumstances thus far do not justify.
The whole idea is little better than an excursion to the moon in a car
drawn by geese, as described by the Spanish poet.

Long before the war, and especially in the discussions which preceded
it, these Rebels were fiery and most unscrupulous. War has not made
them less so. The moral sense which they wanted when it began has not
been enkindled since. With such a people there is no chance of terms
and conditions, except according to their lawless will. The first
surrender on our part will be the signal to a long line of surrenders,
each a catastrophe. Nothing too unreasonable or grinding. If our own
national debt is not repudiated, theirs at least must be assumed.

       *       *       *       *       *

4. Suppose the shameful sacrifice consummated, the impossible
boundaries adjusted, and the illusive terms and conditions stipulated,
do you imagine that you have obtained peace? Alas, no! Nothing of the
sort. You may call it peace; but it will be war in disguise, ready to
break forth in perpetual, chronic, bloody battle. Such an extended
inland border, over which Slavery and Liberty scowl at each other, will
be a constant temptation, not only to enterprises of smuggling, but to
hostile incursions, so that our country will be obliged to sleep on its
arms, ready to spring forward in self-defence. Every frontier town will
be a St. Albans.[409] Military preparations, absorbing the resources of
the people, will become permanent instead of temporary, and the arts
of peace will yield to the arts of war. The national character will be
changed, and this hospitable continent, no longer the prosperous home
of the poor and friendless, thronging from the Old World, will become a
repulsive scene of confusion and strife, while “each new day a gash is
added to her wounds.”

Have we not war enough now? Are you so enamored of funerals, where
the order of Nature is reversed, and parents follow their children to
the grave, that you are willing to keep a constant carnival of Death?
Oh, no! You all desire peace. But there is only one way to secure it.
So conduct the present war, that, when once ended, there shall be no
remaining element of discord, no surviving principle of battle, out of
which future war can spring. Above all, belligerent Slavery must not
rear its crest as an independent power.

       *       *       *       *       *

5. There is another consequence not to be omitted. War would not be
confined to the two governments representing respectively the two
hostile principles, Slavery and Liberty. It would rage with internecine
fury among ourselves. Admit that States may fly out of the Union, and
where will you stop? Other States must follow, in groups or singly,
until our mighty galaxy is broken into separate stars or dissolved into
the nebular compost of a people without form or name. Where then is
country? Where then those powerful States, the pride of civilization
and the hope of mankind? Handed over to ungovernable frenzy, without
check or control, until anarchy and chaos are supreme,--as with the
horses of the murdered Duncan, which, at the assassination of their

    “Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
    Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
    Contending ’gainst obedience, as they would make
    War with mankind. ’Tis said they eat each other.”

The picture is terrible; but it hardly exaggerates the fearful
disorder. Already European enemies, looking to their desires for
conclusions, predict a general discord. Sometimes it is said that
there are to be four or five new nations,--that the Northwest is to
be a nation by itself, the Middle States another, the Pacific States
another, and our New England States still another, so that Rebel
Slavery will be the predominant power on this continent. But it is
useless to speculate on the number of these fractional governments.
If disunion is allowed to begin, it cannot be stopped. Misrule and
confusion will be everywhere. Our fathers saw this at the adoption of
the National Constitution, when, in a rude sketch of the time, they
pictured the Thirteen States as so many staves bound by the hoops into
a barrel. Let a single stave be taken out, and the whole barrel falls
to pieces. It is easy to see how this must occur with States. The
triumph of the Rebellion will be not only the triumph of belligerent
Slavery, but also the triumph of State Rights, to this extent,--first,
that any State, in the exercise of its own lawless will, may abandon
its place in the Union, and, secondly, that the constitutional verdict
of the majority, as in the election of Abraham Lincoln, is not binding.
With these two rules of conduct, in conformity with which the Rebellion
was organized, there can be no limit to disunion. Therefore, when you
consent to the independence of the Rebel States, you disband the whole
company of States, and blot our country from the map of the world.


I have said enough of surrender by recognition of the Slave States,
or, in other words, of the Slave Power, _out of the Union_. It remains
now that I ask attention to that other form of surrender which proposes
_recognition of the Slave Power in the Union_. Each is surrender. The
first, as we have already seen, abandons part of the Union to the Slave
Power; the other subjects the whole Union to the Slave Power.

It is proposed that the Rebel States shall be tempted to lay down their
arms by recognition of Slavery in the Union, with new guaranties and
assurances of protection. _Slavery cannot exist, where it does not
govern._ Therefore must we beg Rebel slave-masters back to govern us.
Such, in plain terms, is the surrender proposed. For one, I will never
consent to any such intolerable rule.

The whole proposition is not less pernicious than that other form of
surrender; nor is it less shameful. It is insulting to reason, and
offensive to good morals.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. I say nothing of the ignominy it would bring upon the Republic,
but call attention at once to its character as a Compromise. In the
dreary annals of Slavery it is by compromise that slave-masters have
succeeded in warding off the blows of Liberty. It was a compromise by
which that early condemnation of the slave-trade was excluded from the
Declaration of Independence; it was a compromise which surrounded the
slave-trade with protection in the National Constitution; it was a
compromise which secured the admission of Missouri as a Slave State;
and, without stopping to complete the list, it is enough to say that
it was a compromise by which the atrocious Fugitive Slave Bill was
fastened upon the country, and the Slave Power was installed in the
National Government. And now, after the overthrow of the Slave Power
at the ballot-box, followed by years of cruel war, another compromise,
greatest of all, is proposed, by which belligerent Slavery, dripping
with the blood of murdered fellow-citizens, shall be welcomed to
more than its ancient supremacy. Where is national virtue, that such
a surrender can be entertained? Where is national honor, that the
criminal pettifoggers are not indignantly rebuked?

The proposition is specious in form as baleful in substance. It is
said that Rebel slave-masters should have their “rights under the
Constitution.” To this plausible language is added that other phrase,
“the Constitution as it is.” All this means Slavery, and nothing else.
For Slavery men resort to this odious duplicity. Thank God, the game is

       *       *       *       *       *

2. But any compromise recognizing Slavery in the Rebel States is
impossible, even if you are disposed to accept it. Slavery, by the
very act of rebellion, ceased to exist, legally or constitutionally.
It ceased to exist according to principles of public law, and also
according to just interpretation of the Constitution; and having once
ceased to exist, it cannot be revived.[410]

When I say that it ceased to exist _legally_, I found myself on an
unquestionable principle of public law, that Slavery is a peculiar
local institution, without origin in natural right, and deriving
support exclusively from the local government; but if this be
true,--and it cannot be denied,--then Slavery must have fallen with
that local government.

When I say that it ceased to exist _constitutionally_, I found myself
on the principle that Slavery is of such a character that it cannot
exist within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Constitution, as, for
instance, in the National territories, and that therefore it died
constitutionally, when, through disappearance of the local government,
it fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Constitution.

The consequences of these two principles are most important. Taken in
conjunction with the rule, “Once free, always free,” they establish the
impossibility of any surrender to belligerent Slavery _in the Union_.

       *       *       *       *       *

3. If, in the zeal of surrender, you reject solemn principles of public
law and Constitution, then let me remind you of the Proclamation of
Emancipation, where the President, by virtue of the power vested in
him as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,
ordered that the slaves in the Rebel States “are and henceforward shall
be free,” and the Executive Government, including the military and
naval authorities, are pledged to “recognize and maintain the freedom
of said persons.” By the terms of this instrument, it is applicable
to all slaves in the Rebel States,--not merely to those within the
military lines of the United States, but to all. Even if the President
were not in simple honesty bound to maintain this Proclamation
according to the letter, he has not the power to undo it. The President
may make a freeman, but he cannot make a slave. Therefore must he
reject all surrender inconsistent with this Act of Emancipation.

It is sometimes said that the Court will set aside the Proclamation.
Do not believe it. The Court will do no such thing. It will recognize
this act precisely as it recognizes other political and military acts,
without presuming to interpose any unconstitutional _veto_,--and it
will recognize this act to the full extent, as was intended, according
to its letter, so that every slave in the Rebel States will be free.
Even if the Court should hesitate, there can be no hesitation with the
President, or with the people, bound in sacred honor to the freedom
of every slave in the Rebel States. Therefore against every effort of
surrender the Proclamation presents an insuperable barrier.

       *       *       *       *       *

4. If you are willing to descend deep down to the fathomless infamy
of renouncing the Proclamation, then in the name of peace do I
protest against any such surrender. So long as Slavery exists in the
Union, there can be no peace. The fires which seem to be extinguished
will only be covered by treacherous ashes, out of which another
conflagration will spring to wrap the country in war. This must never

It is because Slavery is not yet understood, that any are willing to
tolerate it. See it as it is, and there can be no question. Slavery
is guilty of every crime. The slave-master is burglar, for by night
he enters forcibly into the house of another; he is highway robber,
for he stops another on the road, and compels him to deliver or die;
he is pickpocket, for he picks the pocket of his slave; he is sneak,
for there is no pettiness of petty larceny he does not employ; he is
horse-stealer, for he takes from his slave the horse that is his; he
is adulterer, for he takes from the slave the wife that is his; he is
receiver of stolen goods on the grandest scale, for the human being
stolen from Africa he foolishly calls his own. When I describe the
slave-master, it is simply as he describes himself in the code he
sanctions. All crime is in Slavery, and so every criminal is reproduced
in the slave-master. And yet it is proposed to bestow upon this whole
class not only new license for their crimes, but a new lease of their
power. Such surrender would be only the beginning of long-continued,
unutterable troubles, breaking forth in bloodshed and sorrow without

       *       *       *       *       *

5. Lastly, this surrender cannot be made without surrender to the
Rebellion. Already I have exhibited the identity between Slavery and
the Rebellion; and yet it is proposed to recognize Slavery in the
Union, when such recognition will be plain recognition of the Rebellion.

The whole thing is impossible, and not to be tolerated. Alas! too much
blood has been shed, and too much treasure lavished, for this war to
close with any such national stultification. The Rebellion must be
crushed, whether in the guise of war or under the _alias_ of Slavery.
It must be trampled out, so that it can never show itself again, or
prolong itself into another generation. Not to do this completely is
not to do it at all. Others may act as they please, but I wash my hands
of this great responsibility. History will not hold such surrender

    “An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
      A spirit from on high”;

but the orphans of this war must heap curses heaven-high upon the man
who consents to see its blood and treasure end in nought.

Such are the grounds for the repudiation of all surrender to Slavery
_in the Union_. I have also shown that there can be no surrender
to Slavery _out of the Union_. In either alternative surrender is
impossible; but even if possible, it would be most perilous and

Thus far I have said nothing of platforms or candidates. I desired
to present the issue of principle, so that the patriot could choose
without embarrassment from party association. Pardon me now, if for one
moment I bring platforms and candidates to the touch-stone.

There is the Baltimore platform, with Abraham Lincoln as candidate. No
surrender here. In one resolution it is declared that the war must be
prosecuted “with the utmost possible vigor to _the complete suppression
of the Rebellion_.” In another it is declared, “that, as Slavery was
the cause, and now constitutes the strength of this Rebellion, and
as it must be always and everywhere hostile to the principles of
republican government, _justice and the national safety demand its
utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic_.”[411]
There is salvation in these words, pronouncing the doom of Slavery in
the name of justice and the national safety. The candidate has solemnly
accepted them, not only when he accepted his nomination, but yet again,
when, in the discharge of official duties, he said briefly, “to whom
it may concern,” that there could be no terms of peace, except on the
condition of “the integrity of the whole Union and the abandonment of
Slavery.”[412] In this letter of the President, unquestionably the
best he ever wrote, it is practically declared, in conformity with the
Baltimore platform, that there can be no surrender to Slavery in the
Union or out of the Union.

Turn to the Chicago platform and its candidate, and what a contrast!
There is surrender in both forms. The platform surrenders to Slavery
_out of the Union_, and, in proposing a “cessation of hostilities,”
prepares the way for recognition of the Rebel States. The candidate,
in a letter accepting the nomination, surrenders to Slavery _in the
Union_. The platform plainly looks to disunion. The letter seemingly
looks to union; but whether looking to union or not, it plainly
surrenders to Slavery.

There is still another surrender in the Chicago platform. While
professing formal devotion to the Union, it declines to insist upon
“National unity,” or “a union on the basis of the Constitution of the
United States.” No such terms are employed; but we are invited to seek
peace “on the basis of the Federal Union of the States”: so that,
according to this platform, it is not the National Union, that union of
the people accepted by Washington and defended by Webster, which we are
to have, but a “Federal Union of the States,” where State Sovereignty,
as accepted by John C. Calhoun and defended by Jefferson Davis, will be
supreme; and all this simply for the sake of Slavery.

Look at the Chicago platform or candidate as you will, and you are
constantly brought back to Slavery as the animating impulse. Look at
the Baltimore platform or candidate, and you are constantly brought
back to Liberty as the animating impulse. And thus again Slavery and
Liberty stand face to face,--the slave-ship against the Mayflower.

There is another contrast between the two platforms, which ought
not to be forgotten. That of Chicago, while saying nothing against
the Rebellion, uses ambiguous language, interpreted differently by
different persons; while that of Baltimore is so plain and unequivocal
that it leaves no room for question. This contrast is greater still,
when we turn to the two candidates. Perhaps never between two
candidates was it presented to the same extent. The Chicago candidate
has written a subtle letter, which is interpreted according to the
desires of its readers,--some finding peace, and others finding war.
And this double-faced proceeding is his bid for the Presidency. I
need not remind you that our candidate has never uttered a word of
duplicity, and that his speeches and letters can be interpreted only in
one way. And these are the two representatives of Slavery and Liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fellow-citizens, such is the issue of principle, such are the platforms
and candidates. And now, I ask frankly, Are you for Slavery, or are you
for Liberty? Or, changing the form of the question, Are you for the
Rebellion, or are you for your country? For this is the question you
must answer by your votes. In your answer, do not forget, I entreat
you, its infinite, far-reaching, many-sided importance. This is no
ordinary election. It is a battle-field of the war; and victory at
the polls will assure victory everywhere. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan,
Farragut, all are watching for it. Their trumpets are ready to echo
back our election bells.

In every aspect the contest is vast. It is vast in its relations to
our own country,--vaster still in its relations to other countries.
Overthrow Slavery here, and you overthrow it everywhere,--in Cuba,
Brazil, and wherever a slave clanks his chain. The whole execrable
pretension of “property in men,” wherever it now shows its audacious
front, will be driven back into kindred night. Nor is this all.
Overthrow Slavery here, and our Republic ascends to untold heights of
power and grandeur. Thus far its natural influence has been diminished
by Slavery. Let this shameful obscuration cease, and our example
will be the day-star of the world. Liberty, everywhere, in all her
struggles, will be animated anew, and the down-trodden in distant lands
will hail the day of deliverance. But let Slavery prevail, and our
Republic will drop from its transcendent career, while the cause of
liberal institutions in all lands is darkened. There have been great
battles in the past, on which Human Progress has been staked. There was
Marathon, when the Persian hosts were driven back from Greece; there
was Tours, when the Saracens were arrested midway in victorious career
by Charles Martel; there was Lepanto, when the Turks were brought to
a stand in their conquests; there was Waterloo. But our contest is
grander. We are fighting for national life, assailed by belligerent
Slavery; yet such is the solidarity of nations, and so are mankind knit
together, that our battle now is for the liberty of the world. The
voice of victory here will resound through the ages.

Never was grander cause or sublimer conflict. Never holier sacrifice.
Who is not saddened at the thought of precious lives given to Liberty’s
defence? The soil of the Rebellion is soaked with patriot blood, its
turf is bursting with patriot dead. Surely they have not died in vain.
The flag they upheld will continue to advance. But this depends upon
your votes. Therefore, for the sake of that flag, and for the sake of
the brave men that bore it, now sleeping where no trumpet of battle can
wake them, stand by the flag.

Tell me not of “failure.” There can be but one failure, and that
is the failure to make an end of Slavery; for on this righteous
consummation all else depends. Let Liberty be with us, and no power can
prevail against us. Let Slavery be acknowledged, and there is no power
which will not mock and insult us. Such is the teaching of history,
in one of its greatest examples. Napoleon, when compelled to exchange
his empire for a narrow island prison, exclaimed in bitterness of
spirit, “It is not the Coalition which has dethroned me, but liberal
ideas.” Not the European Coalition, marshalling its forces from the
Don to the Orkneys, toppled the Man of Destiny from his lofty throne;
but that Liberty which he had offended. He saw and confessed the
terrible antagonist, when he cried out, “I cannot reëstablish myself;
I have shocked the people; I have sinned against _liberal ideas_, and
I perish.” Memorable words of instruction and warning! Ideas rule the
world, and, unlike batteries and battalions, they cannot be destroyed
or cut in pieces. May we so press this contest as not to shock mankind
or sin against Liberty! May we so close this contest as to win God’s
favor! Nature has placed the eye in the front, that man shall look
_forward and upward_; and it is only by contortion that he is able
to look behind. Therefore, in looking forward and upward, we follow
Nature. An ancient adventurer, escaping from the realms of Death,
looked behind, and he failed. We, too, shall fail, if we look behind.
Forward, not backward, is the word,--firmly, courageously, faithfully.
There must be no false sentiment or cowardice, no fear of “irritating”
Rebels. When the Almighty Power hurled Satan and his impious peers

        “headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
    With hideous ruin and combustion, down
    To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
    In adamantine chains and penal fire,”

no Chicago platform proposed “a cessation of hostilities, with a view
to a convention or other peaceable means”; nor was there any attempt
to save the traitors from Divine vengeance. Personal injuries we
may forgive; but Government cannot always forgive. There are cases
where pardon is out of place. Society that has been outraged must
be protected. That beautiful land now degraded by Slavery must be
redeemed, while a generous statesmanship fixes forever its immutable
condition. If the chiefs of the Rebellion are compelled to abdicate in
favor of emigrants from the North and from Europe, swelling population,
creating new values, and opening new commerce,--if “poor whites”
are reïnstated in rights,--if a whole race is lifted to manhood and
womanhood,--if roads are extended,--if schools are planted,--there
will be nothing inconsistent with that just clemency which I rejoice
to consider a public duty. Liberty is the best cultivator, the truest
teacher, and the most enterprising merchant. The whole country
will confess the new-born power, and those commercial cities now
sympathizing so perversely with belligerent Slavery will be among the
earliest to enjoy the quickening change. Beyond all question, the
overthrow of this portentous crime, besides immeasurable contributions
to civilization everywhere, will accomplish two things of direct
material advantage: first, it will raise the fee-simple of the whole
South; and, secondly, it will enlarge the commerce of the whole North.

In this faith I turn in humble gratitude to God, as I behold my
country at last redeemed and fixed in history, the Columbus of Nations,
once in chains, now hailed as benefactor and discoverer, who gave a New
Liberty to mankind. Foreign powers watch the scene with awe; saints
and patriots from their home in the skies look down with delight; and
Washington, who set free his own slaves, exults that the Republic,
which revered him as Father, now follows his example.


[1] _Ante_, Vol. VI. pp. 442, 502; Vol. VII. p. 152.

[2] _Ante_, Vol. IX. pp. 39-46.

[3] Acts 37th Cong. 2d Sess., Ch. CLXXXIX. Sec. 1: Statutes at Large,
Vol. XII. p. 588.

[4] Acts 1st Cong., Ch. XX. Sec. 29, 34: Ibid., Vol. I. pp. 88, 92.

[5] State _v._ Whitaker, 3 Harrington, R., 550.

[6] Ch. 52, § 12.

[7] Ch. 107, § 4.

[8] Ch. 52, § 12.

[9] Elliott _v._ Morgan, 3 Harrington, R., 317.

[10] State _v._ Whitaker, 3 Harrington, R., 549.

[11] State _v._ Cooper, Ibid., 571.

[12] State _v._ Jeans, 4 Ibid., 570.

[13] Redden _v._ Spruance et als., Ibid., 217.

[14] Webb _v._ Pindergrass, 4 Harrington, R., 439.

[15] State _v._ Bender, 3 Ibid., 572, note.

[16] Collins _v._ Hall, Ibid., 574, note.

[17] State _v._ Fisher, 1 Harris and Johnson, R., 750.

[18] Rusk _v._ Sowerwine, 3 Ibid., 97.

[19] Sprigg _v._ Negro Mary, Ibid., 491.

[20] Ch. 176, § 20.

[21] Winn _v._ Jones, 6 Leigh, R., 74.

[22] Johnson _v._ The Commonwealth, 2 Grattan, R., 581.

[23] Code of Virginia (1849), Ch. 215, § 9.

[24] Ch. 107, § 1. See Tumey _v._ Knox, 7 T. B. Monroe, R., 91.

[25] Page _v._ Carter, 8 B. Monroe, R., 192.

[26] Ch. 111, § 50; Act 1777, Ch. 115, § 42; Act 1821, Ch. 1123. See
State _v._ Ben, 1 Hawks, R., 434.

[27] State _v._ Chittem, 2 Devereux, R., 49.

[28] State _v._ Patton, 5 Iredell, Law Rep., 186.

[29] Williams _v._ Blincoe, 5 Littell, R., 171.

[30] Jones _v._ The State, Meigs, R., 121.

[31] Nicholson’s Supplement to the Statutes, 131.

[32] 7 Statutes at Large, 411.

[33] 2 De Bow, Industrial Resources, etc., of the Southern and Western
States, 279.

[34] 2 De Bow, 274.

[35] 7 Statutes at Large, 401, 402.

[36] 2 De Bow, 274.

[37] White _v._ Helmes, 1 McCord, R., 435.

[38] Groning _v._ Devana, 2 Bailey, R., 192.

[39] Heyward _v._ Glover, Riley, Chan. Rep., 53.

[40] Gage _v._ M’Ilwain, 1 Strobhart, R., 135.

[41] Section 10: Cobb’s Digest, 973.

[42] Cobb’s Digest, 988.

[43] Section 2276; see, also, Section 3596.

[44] Sections 110, 111: Hutchinson, Code, 861.

[45] Hutchinson, Code, 136. Harris _v._ Newman, 3 Smedes and Marshall,
R., 575, 576; Coleman _v._ Doe, 4 Ibid., 40.

[46] Thompson’s Digest, 542.

[47] Ch. 187, § 22.

[48] Meechum _v._ Judy, 4 Missouri Rep., 361.

[49] Ch. 158, § 25.

[50] Consol. and Rev. Stat., 556; Act of 1816, Ch. 146, §§ 1, 2.

[51] Art. 1584.

[52] Art. 2261; see, also, Art. 177.

[53] Hartley’s Digest, Art. 2586.

[54] Ovid, Metamorph., Lib. II. 13, 14.

[55] No allusion is made to Free States where exclusion on account of
color was recognized.

[56] Hawkins _v._ The State, 7 Missouri Rep., 192.

[57] Spencer _v._ The State, 20 Alabama Rep., 27.

[58] Potts et al. _v._ House, 6 Georgia Rep., 348.

[59] De Lacy _v._ Antoine et als., 7 Leigh, R., 438; Commonwealth _v._
Oldham, 1 Dana, R., 466; Williams _v._ Blincoe, 5 Littell, R., 171; 2
De Bow, 274.

[60] Commonwealth _v._ Oldham, 1 Dana, R., 467.

[61] Clancy _v._ Overman, 1 Devereux and Battle, R., 402.

[62] Biles _v._ Holmes et als., 11 Iredell, Law Rep., 21.

[63] Yeatman et al. _v._ Hart, 6 Humphreys, R., 377. See, also, Marr
_v._ Hill et al., 10 Missouri Rep., 320; M’Clintock _v._ Hunter,
Dudley, So. Car. Law Rep., 327; Brown _v._ Lester, Georgia Decisions,
Part I. p. 77.

[64] Roulhac _v._ White et al., 9 Iredell, Law Rep., 63; Jones _v._
White, 11 Humphreys, R., 268.

[65] Brownston _v._ Cropper, 1 Littell, R., 176.

[66] Biles _v._ Holmes et als., 11 Iredell, Law Rep., 20, 21. See,
also, Maddin _v._ Edmondson, 10 Missouri Rep., 643.

[67] 7 Statutes at Large, 411.

[68] Act 1740, § 46, 7 Statutes at Large, 413; Act 1800, § 5, Ibid.,
442; 3 McCord, R., 363.

[69] Act 1846, Ch. 87, § 12, Thompson’s Digest, 176; Act November 21,
1828, § 43, Ibid., 511.

[70] Act December 20, 1823, § 2, 2 Cobb’s Digest, 996; Act May 10,
1770, § 43, Ibid., p. 981.

[71] Act 1814, Ch. 32, §§ 1-3, Consol. and Rev. Stat., p. 525.

[72] Introductory View of the Rationale of Evidence, Ch. XIX.-XXII.;
Rationale of Judicial Evidence, Book IX.: Works (Edinburgh, 1843),
Vols. VI. pp. 86-116, VII. 335-563.

[73] An elaborate letter to Mr. Sumner from this distinguished
authority on the exclusion of colored testimony was annexed to this
Report,--Senate Reports, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 25, pp. 18-28.

[74] Pufendorf, Law of Nature and Nations, Book V. ch. 13, § 9.

[75] Rationale of Judicial Evidence, Book IX. ch. 3: Works (Edinburgh,
1843), Vol. VII. p. 339.

[76] History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. L.

[77] Tocqueville, L’Ancien Régime, Liv. III. ch. 5, (2me édit.,) p. 302.

[78] Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne, Liv. II.
ch. 6.

[79] Charles Comte, Traité de Législation, (2me édit.,) Tom. IV. pp.
129, 445.

[80] Journey through Upper India, (London, 1829,) Vol. III. p. 355.

[81] “Scio me esse servum: nescio etiam id quod scio.”--PLAUTUS,
_Bacchides_, Act. IV. Sc. vii. 21 [Ritschl, 791].

[82] Smith, Dict. Greek and Roman Antiq., art. SERVUS and TORMENTUM.

[83] Notes on Virginia, Query XIV.: Writings, Vol. VIII. p. 385.

[84] Blair, Inquiry into the State of Slavery amongst the Romans, pp.

[85] Voet, Commentarius ad Pandectas, Lib. XXII. Tit. 5, sec. 2. See,
also, Stephens, Slavery of the British West India Colonies, Vol. I. p.

[86] Capitularia Regum Francorum, ed. Baluzius, Lib. VI. cap. 352, Lib.
VII. cap. 208.

[87] Potgiesser, De Statu Servorum, Lib. III. cap. 3, p. 612, note.

[88] Ibid., p. 611; Leg. Burgund., Tit. VI. § 3.

[89] Ibid., p. 612.

[90] Europe during the Middle Ages (London, 1846), Ch. II. Part 2, Vol.
I. p. 149, note.

[91] Coke upon Littleton, 122 b.; Brooke’s Abridgment, _Villenage_, 68;
Fitzherbert’s Abridgment, _Villenage_, 38, 39.

[92] Hawkins, Pleas of the Crown, (7th edit.,) Book II. ch. 46, § 162

[93] Stephens, Slavery in the British West India Colonies, Vol. I. pp.
174, 175.

[94] Act 1705, § 31: 3 Hening, Statutes at Large, 298.

[95] Wheeler, Law of Slavery, p. 194, note.

[96] De Bow, Industrial Resources, &c., of the Southern and Western
States, Vol. II. p. 274.

[97] Lewis _v._ The State, 9 Smedes and Marshall, R., 120.

[98] See Rev. Code Del., Ch. 80, § 28, Ch. 130, § 1; 1 Dorsey, Laws
Md., 92, 777; Code Va., Ch. 194, § 1, Ch. 200. § 8; Rev. Stat. Ky., Ch.
93, art. 7, §§ 14, 15; Rev. Stat. N. C., Ch. 111, § 52; Car. and Nich.,
Comp. Tenn., 674; Thompson, Dig. Fa., 540. § 11; Cobb, Dig. Ga., 974, §
19, 987, § 63; Code Ala., §§ 3315, 3318; Hutchinson, Code Miss., 521, §

[99] Tate, Dig., 338, § 3.

[100] 1 Dorsey, 92.

[101] Act of 1828, § 41: Thompson’s Digest, 540, § 11.

[102] Act of 1822, June 18, § 59.

[103] Rev. Stat., Ch. 74, art. 3, § 8.

[104] De Bow, Industrial Resources, Vol. II. p. 274.

[105] Congressional Globe, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., pp. 1094-1096.

[106] Statutes at Large, Vol. XIV. p. 226.

[107] Statutes at Large, Vol. XI. p. 55, Ch. 127, § 7.

[108] Statutes at Large, Vol. XIII. p. 139.

[109] Judges, v. 23.

[110] Martial, Epigr., Lib. II. 64.

[111] House Journal, February 18, 1807. Report on Petition of Merchants
of Charleston, S. C.: Reports, 9th Cong. 2d Sess., Vol. II.

[112] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., Vol. V., Doc. 102.

[113] See Appendix.

[114] Senate Reports, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 41, Appendix.

[115] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 249.

[116] French Minister of Foreign Affairs to Mr. Morris, Oct. 14, 1793:
Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 70.

[117] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 43.

[118] Ibid., p. 217.

[119] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 253.

[120] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 263.

[121] Ibid., p. 77.

[122] Ibid., pp. 77, 78.

[123] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. p. 683.

[124] Ibid., p. 469.

[125] Ibid., p. 747.

[126] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 149.

[127] Report of the Secretary of State, Jan. 18, 1799: Ibid., p. 434.

[128] Ibid., pp. 434, 435.

[129] Ibid., p. 435.

[130] Ibid., p. 163.

[131] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 471.

[132] Ibid., p. 377.

[133] Ibid., p. 484.

[134] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 454, 455.

[135] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. II. p. 163.

[136] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 487.

[137] Garden, Traités de Paix, Tom. VI. p. 120.

[138] Adams’s Works, Vol. I. p. 553.

[139] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 562, 575.

[140] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 430.

[141] Ibid., pp. 580, 581.

[142] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 581.

[143] Ibid., p. 582.

[144] Ibid., p. 583.

[145] Ibid., p. 609.

[146] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 490.

[147] To the President of Congress, December 23, 1777: Writings, ed.
Sparks, Vol. V. p. 197.

[148] Treaty of Alliance, Art. XI.: U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII.
p. 10.

[149] Treaty of Alliance, Art. XII.: U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol.
VIII. p. 10.

[150] Message to Parliament, January 28, 1793: Hansard, Parliamentary
History, Vol. XXX. col. 239.

[151] Speech on the King’s Message, February 1, 1793: Hansard, XXX. 307.

[152] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 457.

[153] Articles VI., VII.: United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII.
p. 16.

[154] Article XVII.: United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII., p. 22.

[155] Article XXII.: Ibid., p. 24.

[156] Article VIII.: Ibid., p. 112.

[157] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. p. 347.

[158] Ibid.

[159] Le Droit des Gens, Liv. III. ch. 6, § 94.

[160] Report of Mr. Livingston on the French Spoliations, February 22,
1830: Senate Documents, 21st Cong. 1st Sess., No. 68, p. 5.

[161] Gebhardt’s American and French State Papers, Vol. I. pp. 9, 10.

[162] Letter to Mr. Jefferson, September 18, 1793: American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. pp. 173, 174.

[163] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 193.

[164] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 199.

[165] Ibid., p. 231.

[166] Ibid., pp. 78, 79.

[167] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 84.

[168] Ibid., pp. 86, 87.

[169] Alison, History of Europe (Edinburgh, 1844), Vol. II. p. 767, Ch.

[170] Commission of Guadeloupe to the Congress of the United States,
November 6, 1793: American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. p.

[171] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. p. 688.

[172] Writings, Vol. IV. pp. 102, 103.

[173] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I. pp. 658, 659.

[174] Mr. Monroe to the Secretary of State, February 20, 1796: Ibid.,
p. 731.

[175] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 150.

[176] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 354, 367.

[177] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 163.

[178] Ibid., pp. 430, 457, 458.

[179] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 529.

[180] Writings, ed. Sparks, Vol. XII. pp. 230-232.

[181] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 581.

[182] Ibid., p. 587.

[183] Ibid., p. 591.

[184] Ibid., p. 607.

[185] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 616-618.

[186] Ibid., p. 625.

[187] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 627, 628.

[188] Ibid., p. 629.

[189] Ibid., p. 630.

[190] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 631.

[191] Journal of American Plenipotentiaries, September 12, 1800: Ibid.,
p. 633.

[192] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 634.

[193] Ibid., pp. 635, 636.

[194] Letter to Secretary of State, October 4, 1800: Ibid., p. 644.

[195] Ibid., p. 637.

[196] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 178.

[197] Mémoires du Roi Joseph (2me édit.), Tom. I. p. 94.

[198] Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire, Tom. II. Liv. 7.

[199] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 192.

[200] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 666.

[201] Ibid., p. 675.

[202] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 194.

[203] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 196.

[204] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 467.

[205] Circular, August 27, 1793: Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st
Sess., No. 102, p. 217.

[206] Le Droit des Gens, Liv. IV. ch. 2, § 12.

[207] Letter to James H. Causten: Speech of Hon. John M. Clayton in the
Senate of the United States, April 23 and 24, 1846, Appendix, No. 2:
Congressional Globe, 29th Cong. 1st Sess., Appendix, pp. 863, 864.

[208] William C. Preston to James H. Causten, January 29, 1844: Mr.
Clayton’s Speech, Appendix, No. 3: Ibid., p. 864.

[209] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 717.

[210] Ibid., p. 704.

[211] Ibid., p. 795.

[212] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 7.

[213] Report, February 22, 1830: Senate Documents, 21st Cong. 1st
Sess., No. 68, pp. 14, 15.

[214] Gourgaud’s Memoirs, Vol. II. p. 129.

[215] Statutes at Large, Vol. I. p. 561.

[216] Statutes at Large, Vol. I. p. 558.

[217] Ibid., pp. 565, 613.

[218] Ibid., p. 572.

[219] Ibid., p. 577.

[220] Ibid., p. 578.

[221] Ibid., p. 604.

[222] Ibid., p. 725.

[223] Ibid., p. 750.

[224] Statutes at Large, Vol. II. p. 7.

[225] Ibid., p. 85.

[226] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 561.

[227] Ibid., p. 583.

[228] Ibid., p. 452.

[229] Ibid., p. 633.

[230] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 616.

[231] Ibid., p. 559.

[232] Ibid., p. 649.

[233] Portiez, Code Diplomatique, Tom. I. pp. 39-57.

[234] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 180.

[235] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 714.

[236] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 717.

[237] United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 430.

[238] Executive Documents, 22d Cong. 2d Sess., H. of R., No. 147, p.

[239] Executive Documents, 24th Cong. 1st Sess., H. of R., No. 117, p.

[240] Report of Secretary of State, April 25, 1846: Senate Documents,
29th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 313.

[241] Art. IV.

[242] Statutes at Large, Vol. I. p. 578.

[243] Report on the Tonnage Duty, January 18, 1791: Wait’s State
Papers, Vol. X. p. 73.

[244] Life of Washington, Vol. V., Appendix, Note II.

[245] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 609.

[246] Message, December 7, 1830.

[247] Hildreth, History of the United States, Vol. V. p. 400.

[248] Message, December 6, 1831.

[249] Calonne, as cited by Mr. Clayton, Speech in the Senate on French
Spoliations, April 23, 1846: Congressional Globe, 29th Cong. 1st Sess.,
Appendix, p. 856. A recent authority puts this item at 1,500,000,000
francs, or $300,000,000.--_Les Finances Françaises sous l’ancienne
Monarchie, la République, le Consulat et l’Empire_, par M. le Baron de
Nervo, Receveur-Général, (Paris, 1863,) Tom. II. p. 176.

[250] Iliad, tr. Pope, Book IX. 524-531.

[251] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, pp. 457, 458.

[252] Note to the French Plenipotentiaries, August 20, 1800: Ibid., p.

[253] Note to the French Plenipotentiaries, August 20, 1800: Senate
Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 625.

[254] Note from the French Plenipotentiaries: Ibid., p. 630.

[255] Conference of American Plenipotentiaries with M. X., October 29,
1797: American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. II. p. 163.

[256] Senate Documents, 19th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 102, p. 430.

[257] Mr. Webster, in his careful speech of 12th January, 1835, says:
“So far as can be learned from official reports, there are something
more than six hundred vessels with their cargoes which are supposed to
form claims under this bill.”--_Works_, Vol. IV. p. 177.

[258] From a Review of the Veto Message of President Pierce, by James
H. Causten, pp. 21, 22.

[259] Institutes of Natural Law, Book I. ch. 17, § 5.

[260] De Jure Belli ac Pacis, Lib. II. cap. 17, § 4.

[261] Le Droit des Gens, Liv. II. ch. 18, § 342.

[262] Elements of International Law (ed. Lawrence), Part IV. ch. 1, § 3.

[263] The Amiable Nancy, 3 Wheaton, R., 560.

[264] Hon. S. P. Chase.

[265] Favorable statement of facts, without coming to any conclusion.

[266] This bill was voted by the Senate, February 3, 1835, yeas 25,
nays 20.

[267] This bill was voted by the Senate June 8, 1846, yeas 27, nays 23.

[268] This bill (being Mr. Clayton’s bill as voted by the Senate) was
voted by the House August 4, 1846, yeas 94, nays 87. It thus passed
both houses, but was vetoed by President Polk as a Senate bill; and on
the veto the Senate voted yeas 27, nays 15,--no two thirds.

[269] This bill was voted by the Senate, January 24, 1851, without a

[270] This bill was voted by the Senate, Feb. 15, 1854, yeas 27, nays

[271] This bill was voted by the House, January 27, 1855, yeas 111,
nays 77, and by the Senate, February 6th, yeas 28, nays 17, but was
vetoed by President Pierce as a House bill; and the House vote on the
veto was yeas 113, nays 86,--not two thirds,--so the bill was lost.

[272] This bill was voted by the Senate, January 10, 1859, yeas 26,
nays 20.

[273] Congressional Globe, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., p. 1178, March 18,
1864. See, also, p. 1180.

[274] Notes on Virginia, Query XVIII.: Writings, Vol. VIII. p. 403.

[275] Elliot’s Debates (2d edit.), Vol. III. p. 442.

[276] Elliot’s Debates (2d edit.), Vol. III. p. 590.

[277] Works, Vol. X. pp. 377, 378.

[278] Notes on the Confederacy, April, 1787: Madison’s Letters and
other Writings, Vol. I. p. 322. Congressional Globe, 37th Cong. 2d
Sess., p. 1808, April 24, 1862.

[279] Taylor _v._ Porter, 4 Hill, R., 146, 147.

[280] Elliot’s Debates (2d edit.), Vols. I. p. 334, III. p. 658, IV. p.

[281] Letter to Egbert Benson, 1780: Life, by his Son, Vol. I. pp. 229,

[282] Saadi: The Gulistan, tr. Gladwin, Chap. VII., Tale 16.

[283] The famous device of Paracelsus was a mediæval verse, _Alterius
non sit qui suus esse potest_,--meaning that no man who can be his own
should be another’s; which is good as far as it goes, but it does not
disclose the whole truth.

[284] Cochin, L’Abolition de l’Esclavage, Tom. II., 2me Partie, Liv. X.
ch. 2, 3.

[285] S. Gregorii Registrum Epistolarum, Lib. VI. Ep. 12: Opera Omnia,
(Edit. Benedict., Parisiis, 1705,) Tom. II. col. 800.

[286] Paradise Lost, Book XII. 64-71.

[287] Debates in the Federal Convention, August 25, 1787: Madison
Papers, Vol. III. pp. 1429, 1430.

[288] De Legibus, Lib. I. c. 16.

[289] “Ubi justitia vera non est, nec jus potest esse.”--_De Civitate
Dei_, Lib. XIX. c. 21, § 1.

[290] Speech in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, February 16, 1788:
Works (London, 1822), Vol. XIII. pp. 168, 169.

[291] Speech on the Address of Thanks, January 9, 1770: Hansard’s
Parliamentary History, Vol. XVI. col. 661.

[292] De Soto, De Justitia et Jure, Lib. IV. Quæst. 2, Art. 2.
Mackintosh, quoting these words, declares, with proper exultation,
that “Philosophy and Religion appear by the hand of their faithful
minister to have thus smitten the monsters in their earliest
infancy.”--_Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy_, Sec.
III.: Miscellaneous Works (London, 1851), p. 24.

[293] Paley’s Moral Philosophy, with Annotations by Richard Whately
(London, 1859): Annot., Book III. Part ii. ch. 3, _Slavery_, p. 178.

[294] Plutarch’s Lives, tr. Clough, Vol. IV. p. 565, Appendix. Diogenes
Laertius, De Clarorum Philosophorum Vitis, etc., Lib. IV. c. 2,

[295] Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di T. Livio, Lib. III. cap. 1.

[296] Essays: Of Honor and Reputation.

[297] Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay,
December 4, 1638, Vol. I. p. 246. Palfrey, History of New England, Vol.
I. p. 553.

[298] Collection des Constitutions, Chartes et Lois Fondamentales des
Peuples de l’Europe et des deux Amériques, par MM. P. A. Dufau, J. B.
Duvergier, et J. Guadet, (Paris, 1823,) Tom. I. pp. 97, 98.

[299] Ibid., p. 135.


    “Les mortels sont égaux; leur masque est différent.
    Avoir les mêmes droits à la félicité,
    C’est pour nous la parfaite et seule égalité.”

_Discours en Vers sur l’Homme_; Discours I., _De l’Égalité des
Conditions_: Œuvres (Paris, 1833), Tom. XII. pp. 45, 47.

[301] Poëme sur la Loi Naturelle, 4me Partie: Ibid., p. 176.

[302] Collection des Constitutions, etc., par Dufau, Duvergier, et
Guadet, Tom. I. p. 256.

[303] Ibid., p. 247.

[304] Collection des Constitutions, etc., par Dufau, Duvergier, et
Guadet, Supplément, p. 212.

[305] Ibid., Tom. III. p. 122.

[306] Ibid., Tom. IV. p. 73.

[307] Ibid., Tom. II. p. 511.

[308] Ibid., Tom. I. p. 232.

[309] Ibid., Supplément, p. 188.

[310] Ibid., p. 41.

[311] Ibid., p. 155.

[312] Ibid., p. 74.

[313] Annuaire Historique Universel, 1831, Appendice, Documents
Historiques, p. 155.

[314] Ibid., 1849, Appendice, Documents Historiques, p. 134.

[315] British and Foreign State Papers, 1847-48, Vol. XXXVI. p. 890.

[316] Art. XXIV. Statuto Fondamentale del Regno: Annuario Diplomatico
del Regno d’Italia.

[317] History, Book III. c. 80. See, _ante_, Vol. II. p. 339.

[318] Hallam says of this scene, which occurred after the murder
of Smerdis the Magian, that it is “conceived in the spirit of
Corneille.”--_Middle Ages_ (London, 1853), Vol. II. p. 344, note, Ch.
VIII. Part 2.

[319] Discours de la Servitude Volontaire: Œuvres, ed. Feugère, (Paris,
1846,) pp. 26, 27.

[320] Ancient Law: its Connection with the Early History of Society,
and its Relation to Modern Ideas, by Henry Sumner Maine, (London,
1861,) pp. 92-96. In harmony with this English writer is M. Émile de
Girardin, the French journalist and publicist, who, in a work which
appeared in 1872, says, “A single line which follows resumes all the
Revolution of 1789”; and he then quotes in capitals, “Frenchmen are
equal before the law.”

[321] Collection des Constitutions, etc., par Dufau, Duvergier, et
Guadet, Tom. I. p. 150.

[322] Ibid., Supplément, p. 75.

[323] Ibid., Tom. II. p. 228.

[324] Ibid., p. 279.

[325] Annuaire Historique Universel, 1848, Appendice, Documents
Historiques, p. 41.

[326] Collection des Constitutions, etc., par Dufau, Duvergier, et
Guadet, Tom. V. p. 239.

[327] _Ante_, Vol. X. p. 338.

[328] Life and Letters of Joseph Story, edited by his Son, Vol. II. p.

[329] Congressional Globe, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., p. 1873, April 26,

[330] Act to provide a National Currency, February 25, 1863, Sec. 17:
Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 669.

[331] Sonnet XVII.: To Sir Henry Vane the Younger.

[332] 4 Wheaton, R., 316.

[333] Congressional Globe, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., pp. 1896, 1897, April
27, 1864. See, also, pp. 1900, 1955, 1956.

[334] Act to authorize the Issue of United States Notes, Sec. 2,
February 25, 1862: Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 346.

[335] Rapport, p. 70.

[336] Statutes at Large, Vol. IV. p. 774.

[337] Politics, Book I. ch. 9.

[338] De la Baisse probable de l’Or, Sec. II. ch. 1.

[339] Wealth of Nations, Book I. Ch. 11, Part 2, (London, 1802,) Vol.
I. p. 269.

[340] Statutes at Large, Vol. V. pp. 137, 138.

[341] Acts, 1870-71, Ch. 114, Sec. 9: Statutes at Large, Vol. XVI. pp.
514, 515.

[342] 4 Devereux and Battle, R., 25.

[343] 5 Iredell, R., 253.

[344] _Post_, pp. 397, 398.

[345] America; Review of Seybert’s Statistical Annals: Edinburgh
Review, January, 1820: Works (London, 1840), Vol. I. p. 372.

[346] Acts 1861, Ch. III. Sec. 5: Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 257.

[347] Acts 1861-2, Ch. LXXXI. Sec. 3: Ibid., p. 404.

[348] Acts 1861-2, Ch. XCVIII.: Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. pp. 424,

[349] Acts 1862-3, Ch. CXX.: Ibid., pp. 820, 821.

[350] Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1863, Paper No. 28:
Executive Documents, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., H. of R., No. 3.

[351] Supplemental Report to the Secretary of War, by James McKaye,
Special Commissioner, pp. 28, 29.

[352] Speech of Judge Humphrey, at a Union meeting at Huntsville,
Alabama: McKaye’s Supplemental Report, p. 23.

[353] Speech in the House of Lords on the Immediate Emancipation of the
Negro Apprentices, February 20, 1838; Works (London and Glasgow, 1857),
Vol. X. pp. 276-279.

[354] Final Report of the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission:
Senate Documents, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 53, p. 109.

[355] See, _ante_, pp. 487, 488.

[356] McKaye’s Supplemental Report to the Secretary of War, p. 24.

[357] Whitelocke, Notes upon the King’s Writ for choosing Members of
Parliament, Vol. II. p. 329. Cushing, Law and Practice of Legislative
Assemblies, p. 284.

[358] Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 1262.

[359] Speeches, p. 455.

[360] American Insurance Company _v._ Canter, 1 Peters, S. C. R., 542.

[361] 7 Howard, R., 42.

[362] Commentaries on American Law (6th edit.), Vol. I. p. 92, note _a_.

[363] _Ante_, p. 296.

[364] _Ante_, p. 2.

[365] Speeches, Vol. I. p. 25.

[366] See, especially, Resolutions entitled “State Rebellion, State
Suicide; Emancipation and Reconstruction,” February 11, 1862,--_ante_,
Vol. VI. pp. 301-305.

[367] Mr. Hale and Mr. Sumner sat next to each other.

[368] Mr. Everett was one of the Republican Electors at Large.

[369] Note in reference to Peace Overtures at Niagara Falls, July 18,
1864. See Raymond’s Life of Lincoln, p. 580.

[370] Speech at Cleveland, May 20, 1863: Comments on the Policy
inaugurated by the President, p. 11.

[371] This Introduction, by the Committee of the Young Men’s Republican
Union, appeared as a “Prefatory Note” to the New York pamphlet edition.

[372] House Journal, 37th Cong. 1st Sess., July 22, 1861, p. 123;
Senate Journal, July 25, 1861, p. 92. See, also, _ante_, Vol. V. p. 499.

[373] Duyckinck’s History of the War for the Union, Vol. I. p. 118. See
also Stephens’s Constitutional View of the late War between the States,
Vol. II. p. 415.

[374] Carlyle, Chartism, Ch. VIII.: New Eras, Fifth Excerpt from
“History of the Teuton Kindred,” by Herr Professor Sauerteig.

[375] Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation: Coll. Mass. Hist.
Soc., 4th Ser., Vol. III. pp. 89, 90.

[376] Letter of John Robinson and William Brewster to Sir Edwin Sandys,
Leyden, December 15, 1617; Ibid., pp. 32, 33.

[377] Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay,
Vol. II. p. 136, October 1, 1645.

[378] Capital Laws, 1649: General Laws and Liberties of the
Massachusetts Colony, revised and reprinted by order of the General
Court, 1672, p. 15.

[379] History of England (London, 1786), Vol. V. p. 183, Ch. XL.

[380] “We are the gentlemen of this country,” said Mr. Toombs in 1860.
He had already threatened to call the roll of his slaves on Bunker Hill.

[381] History of South Carolina, p. 60.

[382] Historical Account, Vol. II. p. 272.

[383] Martin, History of North Carolina, Vol. I. p. 218, _et passim_.

[384] I should not have deemed it necessary to make this inquiry, had
I seen the thorough pamphlet of Mr. William H. Whitmore, entitled “The
Cavalier Dismounted: an Essay on the Origin of the Founders of the
Thirteen Colonies,” which appeared contemporaneously with this speech.

[385] Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America, and the Islands
adjacent unto the same, made first of all by our Englishmen, and
afterward by the Frenchmen and Britons, etc. [By Richard Hakluyt.]
Imprinted at London for Thomas Woodcock, 1582.

[386] Strachey’s History of Travel into Virginia Britannia:
Introduction, p. xxxii.

[387] Stith’s History of Virginia, p. 167.

[388] New England’s Trials, p. 16: Force’s Tracts, Vol. II.

[389] Nova Britannia, p. 19: Ibid., Vol. I.

[390] Sermon CLVI.: Works (London, 1839), Vol. VI. p. 232.

[391] A New Discourse of Trade (5th edit.), p. 138, Ch. X., _Concerning

[392] Summary, Historical and Political, of the First Planting, etc.,
of the British Settlements in North America, (Boston, 1749,) Vol. I.
Part 1, p. 115.

[393] Ibid., Vol. I., Part 2, p. 490, note.

[394] History of the United States (Boston, 1845), Vol. I. pp. 53, 54.

[395] History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, p.
168. See, also, p. 103.

[396] Howison, History of Virginia, Vol. I. p. 169.

[397] Ibid., Vol. II. p. 201.

[398] London Magazine, July, 1751, Vol. XX. p. 293.

[399] Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders: Novels and
Miscellaneous Works of Daniel De Foe (Oxford, 1840), Vol. IV. pp. 87,

[400] Postlethwayt, Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce,
(London, 1757), Vol. II. p. 319, Art. NAVAL STORES.

[401] Itinerant Observations in America: London Magazine, July, 1746,
Vol. XV. p. 326.

[402] The City Madam, Act V. Sc. 1.

[403] History of South Carolina, pp. 2-5.

[404] History of the United States, Vol. II. p. 82.

[405] Hewit, Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of South
Carolina and Georgia, Vol. I. p. 104.

[406] Ibid., pp. 92, 115.

[407] History of the United States, Vol. II. p. 120.

[408] Kenelm Henry Digby, Godefridus, p. 86.

[409] Only a short time before this speech, a Rebel incursion,
organized in Canada, had reached this place.

[410] See, _ante_, Vol. VIII. pp. 165, 169, 175.

[411] McPherson’s Political History of the United States during the
Great Rebellion, p. 406.

[412] Ibid., p. 301.

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This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
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