What Happened In July 1862 ©
In The Senate Of The United States Congress
July 7, 1862
The Senate, as Committee of the Whole, proceeded to consider
the bill (S.No. 200) to establish provisional governments in certain cases. The
bill proposes to give authority wherever, within the territorial limits of the United States, the constitutional authority of the United States is or may be resisted by
arms during the present rebellion, to the president of the United States in order, to establish a provisional government.
The executive power of every government so established is to
be exercised by a Governor, the judicial power by three judges, and the
legislative power by a legislature consisting of the governor and the three
The amendment sought to insert into the language of the bill
the following limitation on the power of the governor and three judges,
"and not interfering with the laws and institutions existing in such State
at the time its authorities assumed to array the same against the Government of
the United States."
Note: The lauguage of the
amendment is an example of the core tension between the senators that threads
through all the legislation they are considering during the second session of
the Thirty-Seventh Congress. One group, composed of about half the Republicans
and all of the Democrats, are still clinging to the illusion that the nature of
the war is simply "rebellion"—that is, the Union remains intact, the
country intact, with the Federal Government simply suppressing a group of
rebellious citizens. Therefore, when, in the process of suppressing the
rebellion, the Federal Government sets up "military governments" to
execute the laws in a certain area, the military government must enforce the
civil law as it exists in that area; i.e., enforce the rights of slaveowners
The other group of senators,
composed of about half the Republicans―these are the radicals, men like
Sumner, Wade, Chandler, Trumbull, and King—are operating with a view toward conquering the South, destroying the slave States' infrastructure and extinquishing the
institution of slavery by force of arms. With them the language of the
Constitution means nothing. The concept of a republican form of government
means nothing. Slowly through the six months of the congressional session, the
latter group take command of the majority, in part by changing senate rules of
procedure, in part by the assistance of Lincoln who goes with the flow.
Mr. Sumner, of Massachusetts: I cannot consent
to that amendment. It seems to me that it is going very far. A government
organized by Congress, and appointed by the President, is practically to
enforce laws and institutions, some of which are abhorrent to civilization. For
example, I have before me a law of North Carolina; it reads: "any free
person who shall teach any slave to read shall be deeded guilty of a
misdemeanor and shall be imprisoned, fined, or whipped."
Sir, the bare statement of the case is enough. It is
impossible to consent to any such thing. In organizing these governments, all
we can do is protect life and property, and generally to conduct the machinery
of government. We cannot go further, and protect institutions which are an
outrage to civilization.
Mr. Harris, of New York: Mr. President, the
object of the bill is not to change the legislation of the States. It is to
establish a temporary government, to execute the laws and constitution of the
rebel States during the interval that may occur between the time when the
rebellion shall be suppressed, and when those States shall be able to
reorganize themselves and shall be restored to their proper position in the Union. During this time those clothed with authority to govern the State requires some
power to legislate, but I should be very unwilling to clothe these officers
with power to change the entire body of laws of those States.
Mr. Ten Eych, of New Jersey: I oppose this bill.
In my view, States in rebellion, as the southern States now are, are still
States of this Union, as much today as they were when they became so by their
admission into the Union; and that no act of insurrectionists or rebels can
change the legal character or status of these States from that which they were
entitled to and enjoyed prior to the commencement of the rebellion; and that to
recognize any other doctrine acknowledges at least the power, if not the right,
Note: The theory of the Union that Mr. Ten Eych expresses, is one repeated frequently by historians in their books,
to characterize the war as a "civil war" as opposed to a war
"between States." The distinction between the two concepts goes to
the core of the debate whether, under the political system the founders framed
with the Constitution, a State—let us stick for the moment with an
"old" State―could legally "secede" from the Union.
Adopting this theory as your own
saddles you with the position that, despite the formal political action of its
citizens proclaiming otherwise, the State is still in the Union. And
this position forces you, as it does with Mr. Ten Eych, to acknowledge that the
Federal Government cannot change the domestic policies of the State.
Why? Because as a State presumed to be still in the Union, it is entitled,
under the Constitution, to a republican form of government; meaning a
government of its choice, not yours.
It is against this very heresy that we are now offering up
hundreds of thousands of precious lives. Under our frame of government there
can be no such thing as secession. The Union was meant to be perpetual, and if
such a thing as secesssion in fact exists, it is because the
Federal Government has not sufficient force to compel obedience to its powers.
Note: "The Union was meant
to be perpetual." This is one prong of the traditional argument raised to
rebut the proposition that, under the Constitution, secession was lawful.
In fact, the objective record shows that the framers did not for a moment think
the Union, as a political institution, was to be "perpetual" no
matter what its members might decide to do with their allegiance to it.
The easy rebuttal to the
statement—"The Union was meant to be perpetual"―is to point to
the Articles of Confederation, which do indeed unequivally state that the Union
formed by the instrument is "perpetual," and then point to the
Constitution which, if adopted by nine of the thirteen States
confederated, forms a new Union comprised of the nine, with the remaining four
out in the cold and on their own. So much for the value of raising "The Union was meant to be perpetual" argument.
In my view the people of a State constitute the State; that
the State is not constituted by a mere ideal outline or boundary of territory;
for if the territory be devoid of people, it surely cannot be a State.
Note: Here, Mr. Ten Wych has got
it right on a key political concept that underlies the law of nations. It is that
the people constitute the State. The question then is, under what circumstances
can the people change the affiliation of their State with a
larger political body? And, to what extent should the people be
responsible for the State?
The people then constitute the State; and I hold that if
there be one hundred or ten true and loyal Union men in one of these
insurrectionary Staes, although all the rest are rebels and deserve
destruction, they constitute the State and are entitled to all the blessings
and all the immunities of their State governments under the Constitution; nay,
more, the Government of the United States, by the Constitution, is bound to
protect them in their State governments and to maintain them in a
republican form of government. We may establish temporary or local
control over these insurrectionary States, as we have already begun to do and
are now successfully doing in the State of Tennessee, by the appointment of a
military governor (Andrew Johnson), who, armed with the whole power of the
United States, puts down rebellion and enforces the laws.
Note: Here you see the fatal flaw
in the argument that, in terms of political science, much less of law, the
rebel States are still in the Union, in 1862. The people of South
Carolina in convention assembled vote unanimously that their State
secede from the Union, but, because in one county of the State, when the convention's
delegates were elected on a secession platform, ten citizens of South Carolina
voted against the platform, ipso facto the State must be deemed still in the
Union. The argument is absurd.
This bill provides for a provisional government in a State,
as against the State government. It frames and organizes an antagonistic
government to the State government which the true and loyal people living in
these insurrectionary Staes have the right to have maintained for their
protection and benefit. I cannot vote for a bill that would establish such a
government, when the Constitution guarantees the loyal people a Republican
government. This bill reduces these States to a territorial condition.
Mr. Powell, of Kentucky: I have been taught to
believe that there was no liberty save in the supremacy of the laws; and I now
ask the senator who introduced this bill to show me the clause in the
Constitution that will warrant or authorize its passage. I will say there is no
Mr. President, in my judgment this bill in every feature of
it is unconstitutional. There is no power vested in Congress to declare
sovereign States provinces. This bill does that virtually. There is no power in
Congress to declare that the people of a State of this Union shall not govern
themselves in all matters touching their domestic affairs. I ask my friend from
New York what he would do with the clause of the Constitution which says the United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government?
A republican form of government is one in which the people shape their own
domestic policy in a manner that suits them, so that it is not in contravention
of the Constitution of the United States. The people of every State in the Union have a right to govern themselves just as they please, subject to the limitations of
Note: Mr. Powell's statement of
the case is as close to the mark as objective lawyers and political scientists
can get. It highlights the great truth about the war; the war changed
"States" into provinces by stripping from the people of these States
their sovereign right to control their domestic policy. In 1862, it was the
domestic policy of slavery that caused this political revolution to happen; a
"good" thing in itself.
One hundred and fifty years
later, the consequence of this revolution puts Kansas, in its effort to outlaw
abortion within its borders, on Mr. Powell's side of the case; the same with
Arizona and Alabama, in their efforts to close their borders to aliens; and
California, and a dozen other states, in their efforts to ignore Federal drug
laws; and Oregon, in its effort to ignore Federal law making suicide a crime.
(Not to mention the issue of "civil marriage" to include gay
What does this bill do? It clothes the President with the
power to send a Governor and two judges to any State in this Union where
rebellion exists, and that they shall become the executive and the law making
power for those people. Yes, sir, it clothes the President with the power to
send Wendell Phillips, or Lloyd Garrison (or Frederick Douglas) to South
Carolina, with power to make laws and execute them on that people in derogation
of all their local rights. This is a most astounding heresy, a thing unknown to
our system of government.
Note: Note Powell's language:
". . . to any State in this Union where rebellion exists. .
." By the end of the congressional session, and certainly by September 21, 1862, when Lincoln publishes his "Emancipation Proclamation," a
majority is coalescing in the Senate around the recognition that the seceded
States are, indeed, out of the Union, and the Confederacy is, indeed, a
foreign power that must be conquered by the Union's force of arms.
Sir, let me tell the senator from New York that this bill of
itself is disunion. It is contended here every day that this Union is a Union of sovereign States. Thirty-four sovereign States, they claim, now compose this Union, the Union as formed by the Constitution. But the Senator now comes with his bill and
asks for the passage of a law that absolutely blots out of existence these
sovereign States and reduces them to provinces, to a condition worse than
provinces. You do all in the name of Union. Under that profession you destroy
Note: The bill in question is the
basis eventually for the Union's military occupation of the South, which lasts
for ten years, with army officers serving as military governors. The seceded
States are admitted back into the Union only after they ratify the 13th, 14th,
and 15th amendments to the Constitution which effectively delete from the
Constitution the framers' acceptance of the domestic policy of the slave states,
Mr. Harris: Here are some of the States that
declare they are not in the Union, that they will not be governed in the Union, . We set about as a Government to subdue those States, to suppress the rebellion,
and as fast as we succeed in that, we undertake to enforce the Constitution and
laws of the United States. With that view, military governors are appointed.
They have already been appointed (by Lincoln without any law to authorize it),
one in Tennessee and one in North Carolina. Where is the provision in the
Constitution that authorizes the appointment of military governors? It is hard
to find it. It is only under the provision that I say exists, that these States
are governed in the Union.
A military government implies that the provinces governed
are conquered provinces. The States where these military Governors are
appointed are in some sort prisoners of war, and we hold them as conquered
States, as prisoners, and undertake to govern them by the arbitrary government
of military law.
Note: A "conquered"
State can hardly be characterized simultaneously as a "sovereign"
State. See how the two competing concepts the Senators are espousing mesh?
Now, sir, this bill contemplates another step in this
process; that after these States shall be conquered, after the rebellion shall
be suppressed, after the rebels shall be subdued, then, before these States can
be brought back into the Union, before the people of those States thus subdued
are ready to reorganize themselves and to come back into the Union as loyal
States, the Government of the United States shall provide that they be governed
in the manner contemplated by the Constitution.
Note: So Senator Harris
recognizes that, by their act of seccession, the Confederate States are out of the Union?
How else to do it? You are compelled to resort to some such expedient as this: they have the machinery, they have a constitution; they have laws; but
they will not execute them. The people will not organize a [loyal] State Government. They do not. What are you to do? In my judgment, it is the
duty of the Federal Government to see that their own laws are executed until
they themselves will voluntarily [read duress] organize
themselves into a State Government.
Note: Senator Harris is wandering
in the morass and has fallen into a sinkhole. He is admitting that the Federal
Government is conquering what were once sovereign "States" and
treating them as captured territory to be reorganized into provinces as soon as
the people living in the territory can be induced to comply with the new
Mr. Cowan, of Pennsylvania: I have sometimes
been of opinion that there was danger that we would depart, very materially
depart, not only from the great principles which were established by the
Revolution, but from the principles which were declared by ourselves at the
time we undertook this war to suppress the rebellion.
Note: Of all the senators of the
thirty-seventh congress, Mr. Cowan, to my mind, stands at the head of the first
flight, a real constitutional lawyer with a firm grasp of the realities who
believes completely in the principles the founders relied upon in designing the
Sir, what is a republican form of government? Is it not a
government formed by the people by their own free consent? The government of North Carolina, before the rebellion, was a government formed by her people and, recognized
by this Government. This Government was bound by the Constitution's guarantee
to support republican forms of government, to sustain and support that
government. Now, sir, a rebellion takes place. If that rebellion involves the
whole people in it, that people, by a fundamental principle of our
Constitutiont, have a right to establish such form of government as
they choose; and if it had been established to the satisfaction of Congress
that the whole people of the State in which the rebellion prevailed had been
involved in that rebellion, and were anxious to sever their relationship with
the Union, I suppose nobody would have undertaken to put down that rebellion. I
suppose no Democrat would have undertaken it. I suppose no Republican would
have undertaken it. I suppose no man who understands the theory which underlies
our Government would have ever undertaken it.
Note: Mr. Cowan gets to the heart
of the matter. He is saying that the "whole" people of an American State have the right to secede their State from the Union and if they did
this, then the Federal Government has no constitutional authority to use force to prevent it. Of course, the factual debate then must turn to what is meant,
under Cowan's expression of the political theory, by "whole." Senator
Harris insists that if one citizen objects to the State's secession, the
test of "wholeness" has not been made. How many dissenters does it
take, in Senator Cowan's view, to negate the "wholeness" criteria?
Of course, as far as Abraham
Lincoln is concerned, Cowan's reliance on abstract principles of law is
irrelevant. Lincoln does not care about lawyer arguments, about what is
"right" or "wrong" in the abstract. His focus is squarely
on the fact that the Union must not allow any foreign State to exist on the
American continent, regardless of its origin, or its claimed "right"
to exist. The Union, in his mind, must use all its power to suppress the
existence of any such State, and that is why the Union is at war with the
What, then, was the theory upon which we inaugurated this
war? It was because we decided all the people of the rebellious
States were not in favor of this rebellion. It was because we
believed it was confined to a few. I had no doubt of it. I have no
doubt of it now.
Note: How silly is this? To avoid
the framers' theory of government, Mr. Cowan tells us Congress
"decided," Congress "believed" that "all the people (of
say, South Carolina) were not in favor of this rebellion," only "a
few." Sidney Johnston led forty thousand young men to Shiloh where ten
thousand, in throwing themselves at Grant's fledging army, were either killed
or wounded. On June 26, 1862, General Lee led fifty thousand young men against
McClellan's right flank, and then through the Seven Days to Malvern Hill. These
young men suffered twenty-five thousand casualties. Behind these young men
stood their fathers, mothers, and siblings.
Those, Cowan says, in favor of
the rebellion were "confined to a few?" Nonsense. The whole people,
in the same fraction of the whole that voted in convention assembled to ratify
the Constitution, in 1789, voted in convention assembled, in 1861, to ratify
their States' Articles of Secession.
So, by the framers' theory, which
Cowan accepts, the rebellious States should have been allowed to walk. But
theory ends when a Government's territory is at stake. The Sudan, Syria, Serbia, China, Israel, Britain: do governments care how many citizens in a
region are insisting on change of territorial control? Do governments care
about abstract notions of law, of political science, of theory? Of course not.
If they can hold what they think they own by force, it is in the nature
of governments that they will use it against any one, civilians or no, who
opposes their control.
We went to war to rescue the many as against the few—to
rescue the loyal as against the disloyal. That was the theory; and upon no
other theory can this war be justified or the Government be sustained; because
no one then suggested conquest, and all denied it.
Note: Lincoln is listening to
this, and rejecting it out of hand. He instigated the war, in order to hold the
Union together by force. In less than ninety days he will publish his
so-called "Emancipation Proclamation" which will announce his policy: If you live within rebellious territory and own slaves they are
emancipated because I say so, and your claim you are one of the
"many" loyal people being abused by the few will be ignored. The case
has finally come down to one of conquest; forget the nonsense about being in
the Union under the Constitution. You are a foreign power, pure and simple, and
you will not be tolerated on this continent.
In pursuance of our design not to make a conquest, not to
subjugate, but to rescue and restore, we invade a particular State, and we put
down the rebellion. What is next to be done? Guarantee them a republican form
of government. What republican form of government, I ask? The republican form
of government which they made for themselves? Unquestionably. What other one?
Who dares propose another one? And yet the Senator from Massachsetts would
discharge that guarantee by taking it away and substituting one of his own
instead. But he says some of the State's laws are atrocious, and are abhorent
to the civilized world. Very well, whose business is that, according to our
theory? The business of the Senator from Massachusetts, or of the people of South Carolina, who had the right to make them? The question is whether we will stand upon
a great truth taught us in the Revolution, whether we will give to the people
the government which they established. I thought that right was the very thing
which was achieved by the Revolution. In this country it was decided that the
people should frabricate for themselves their government. And that is all we
can do if we pretend to carry out the doctrines upon which we entered upon the war―namely,
that a State could not go out of the Union, and that, therefore, we could not
make a conquest of her as if she were out.
What, then, can Congress do? I answer, nothing. But the
President, or his generals acting under his direction, after the rebellion is
subdued, can preserve order by military rule until the old government resumes
its wonted action. This is a military function, requiring military force. This
is my view of it.
Mr. Howard, of Michigan: I do not wish to
interrupt, but may I ask a question?
Mr. Cowan: Certainly.
Mr. Howard: I wish to ask him what he would do
in case it should turn out that the rebel States had no loyal people at all?
How is he going to govern them, and how are they going to govern themselves?
Mr. Cowan: Will the honorable Senator allow me
to ask him a question? I have stated distinctly that unless we contemplate
conquest it is one of the fundamental principles of our theory of government
that the people of a State have a right to form their own government; in other
words, it is the right of revolution, if they can make it good.
Are governments to be perpetual; and if they are not, where is the power to
change them, if not in the people?
Note: Mr. Cowan is talking in a
circle here. On the one hand he is saying the "whole" people of South Carolina had a right to form their own government, "but on the other he is
saying, "if they can make it good."In other words, despite his
lip service to theory, he, too, like everybody else in the room, qualifies the principle
of the American Revolution by reference to the force of arms. "You
can be free of us, if you can prevent us from invading and devastating your
homes." That is what all the Senators, one way or another, are saying.
Mr. Howard: Does the Senator wish an answer?
Mr. Cowan: Certainly I do.
Mr. Howard: The United States of America in
Congress assembled has the right to make that government and enforce it.
Mr. Sumner: Beyond all question.
Mr. Cowan: Then you proceed against them
precisely as though you proceeded against a foreign State in case of conquest,
but that is not under the Constitution.
Note: This one sentence captures
in a nutshell the reality of the American Civil War; in what high school, or
college, is the reality of this taught?
And this doctrine of the right of conquest is precisely the
doctrine which was held by the Parliament and the King of Great Britain in our
Revolution. It is the doctrine which has been held by all tyrannies from the
time the world began. If this Government becomes a tyranny, how is it to be
changed, unless there is some such right of revolution somewhere?
Note: There it is, the objective
truth of history American historians, by and large, cannot bring themselves to
teach their students. How is it to be changed, if the right of
revolution is not recognized, as a right? How is Syria's Government to change? How is China's? How is ours? Without it?
Mr. Carlile, of "Virginia:" The
Senator from Michigan puts to the Senator from Pennslyvania a question what
will you do if there are no loyal people in any of these rebellious States. If
there are no loyal people left in the State after the suppression of the
rebellion, I take it there will be no people to govern. You will have
exterminated them all and it will be a vast wilderness to be repeopled.
Mr. Howard: I ask my friend from Virginia whether he expects the rebels are to die in the last ditch?
Mr. Carlile: I have proceeded on the theory
that there will be loyal people left, this is the only theory we can go on in
the name of the United States and wage this war. If it is waged under any other
theory it can only be justified upon the ground that rebellion has dissolved
the Union, and that this is a war on the part of the non-seceded States against
the seceded States for the purpose of compelling them to remain in the Union.
The Senator talks of conquering States. Where does he derive
the power to do this, under the Constitution? Are the powers of the
creature, greater than the creator?
Mr. Harris: The Senator from Pennslyvania has
a proposition which I think is a heresy under our system of government. His
argument is based on the proposition that where the people of a State are
unanimous in repudiating the Government of the country we have no right as a
General Government to suppress that rebellion. Sir, how does the Senator know,
how does any one know, that there is a loyal man in South Carolina? The
presumption is against it; and according to the doctrine of the Senator from
Pennslyvania, unless it happens that there is some loyal man or woman in South Carolina, the war as against South Carolina is unjust."
Note: Whether he knows it or not,
Senator Harris has hit the mark. The whole nonsense of debate, argument,
theory, law, etc, turns ultimately on a finding of whether the war is unjust? The answer is beside the point. Governments, since their
appearance among the human race, all will use force to maintain a grip
on territory, regardless of who wins the argument whether the war that results
is just or unjust.
Mr. Cowan: Is not the very thing we are trying
to ascertain is whether the war is just?
Mr. Harris: I think not.
Mr. Cowan: Is not the very thing we are trying
to discover whether there are enough loyal people in the South to maintain a
government with our help against the rebellion? If they cannot, the rebellion
succeeds, and then, instead of being a rebellion it is a revolution,
legitimate, and goes on.
Note: Here we have a definition
that makes sense. A "rebellion" is a resistence to rule by some
percentage of a people less than its whole; a "revolution" is
resistence to rule by the "whole" of a people. In the context of
1862, there is no question but that, under the Constitution, each State being
"sovereign" in its domestic affairs, what counts in the equation is
the "whole" people of a State, not the "whole" people of
the Union. The "Union" was not conceived, under the Constitution, to
be the Union of a people, but a Union of States.
Mr. Harris: I do not so understand it. My idea
of this thing is this: that, assuming the whole people of South Carolina are in
support of the rebellion, it is our duty, under the Constitution, to put down
that rebellion, to suppress it; and having done that, what next? The people of South Carolina say, `You have conquered us, you have by physical strength suppressed our
determination to go out of the Union, but you will never hold us to the Union notwithstanding. Now, what is to be done? We cannot force these people to hold a
convention, make a constitution and a government, hold elections. But we can do
this, we can say to them, "we will enforce upon you the laws and
constitution you made when you were part of the Union. (Mr. Sumner, of
course, is saying, "we will force upon you our political idea of what
good domestic policy is.)
Mr. Cowan: Is this enforced government you
talk about, pressed on the people of South Carolina, to remain permanently? If
you answer yes, is this then not conquest and subjugation? What is conquest?
What is subjugation? Conquest simply means the overrunning of a country and the
assumption of its political power on the part of the conqueror, and maintaining
it as against the will of the people. What is subjugation but the making the
people go under the yoke? I thought this was not our objective.
I have no doubt there are gentlemen here in favor of
subjugation, and were from the very beginning, because almost everything that
they have done since then has indicated that that was their original intent,
but I say that was not the original idea of the American people. We, as a
nation, are responsible before the world and to ourselves for the honesty of
our motives and the correctness of our intentions.
Note: This is a crucial point to
understand about the phenomenon of Lincoln. At the time of his inauguration, in
March 1861, he knew that the people of the Northern States thought of the
seceded States as sovereign entities entitled to leave the Union if that was
the wish of their people, and that they had no feelings which motivated
them to engage in a war of conquest. For that reason, he instigated the war as
a means of inciting their passions and then used the apparatus of the
Republican Party machine to quickly establish an army and send it to do battle
in the field. Once the body bags came home, nothing would stop the acceleration
of the war. Politicians in the White House have been doing the same thing time
after time: Viet Nam and Iraq come immediately to mind. And now we hear noise
about Iran. The fault, of course, lies not with them but with ourselves.
Mr. Wilkinson, of Minnesota: I wish to ask the
Senator from Pennsylvania a question; does the Government not have the right to
prevent another government from being established in its borders, even
if the whole people of a certain area determined so to do?
Note: See how tricky the language
is? Mr. Wilkinson assumes that the Federal Government owns the
territory comprising the State of South Carolina. But if this were so, then, of
course, it is impossible to call South Carolinia a "State."
Mr. Cowan: We have a right to maintain the
integrity of the Republic, of course, under certain conditions; but as nobody
supposes the Republic will be eternal, that it will last always, and that it
can last against the will of the people who created it, I leave the answer to
Note: Mr. Cowan says some very
heavy things. These men, in their debates, take political theory and language
to as high an elevation as did certainly the men who attended the
Constitutional Convention, in 1787.
At this point Mr. Fessenden asked for priority to present
the Tariff Bill and the motion was agreed to.
July 8, 1862
Message From The House
A message was received from the House of Representatives, by
Mr. Morris, Chief Clerk, announcing that the House had insisted upon its
disagreement to the amendments of the Senate to the bill of the House (No. 471)
to confiscate the property of rebels insisted upon by the Senate, agreed to the
conference asked by the Senate on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses, and
had appointed Mr. Thomas Eliot of Massachusetts, Mr. James Wiley of Iowa, and Mr.
Erastus Corning of New York, managers at the same on its part.
Note: On July 8th, President
Lincoln went on board the steamer Ariel, and traveled to Harrison's Landing.
There he questioned McClellan's corps commanders regarding their views whether
the Army should remain where it was, or remove itself to the Manassas Plain.
The majority expressed the opinion that the Army should stay. Before he left Washington, Lincoln had sent Rhode Island Governor Sprague to talk to General Halleck at Corinth, to feel out his willingness to come to Washington as
"General-in-Chief." Lincoln returned to Washington on July 10th and
immediately issued an order to Halleck that he come.
At Harrison's Landing, McClellan
handed Lincoln a letter which contained recommendations of military and
political policy that were at the heart of the debate going on in the Senate at
the time, policies which would be rejected by the Congress at the end of the
session and which, for the most part, were already dismissed from Lincoln's
McClellan wrote, "Military
power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitive,"
but in the next sentence he said, "Slaves seeking military protection
should receive it." How these two statements can be reconciled I cannot
say. He repeats himself in this contradiction when he wrote, first, "This
should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State. It
should not be a war upon a population, but against armed forces. All private
property should be respected and protected." And, then, second, "The
right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to
slave labor should be asserted and the right of the owner to compensatioon
Whether McClellan was simply
stupid, or just motivated to speak out of both sides of his month like a
politician, who can say? What is clear is that by the time he reached
Harrison's Landing, Lincoln had made up his mind what his policy was now
to be: The war would be against the civilian population of the South, forcing
them by conquest to give up their domestic institution of slavery in the
process. If slavery caused the war, the war caused the emancipation of
the Africans. It is a fact they ought to respect.
July 9, 1862
The Militia Act
On motion of Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, the bill (S.No.
384) to amend the act calling forth the militia was read a second time and
Mr. Grimes, of Iowa: I offer this amendment: be
it further enacted that there shall be no exemption from the
performance of military duty under this law on account of color or race, but
whenever the militia shall be called into service, all loyal able-bodied males
persons shall be called to the defense of the Union.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the adoption of
the amendment proposed by the Senator from Iowa.
Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware: On that amendment
I ask for the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. Saulsbury: It would have been utterly
impossible, had this war been really prosecuted for the restoration of the Union as it was, for the people to ever allow the Union to be dissolved. But no sooner did
the war commence that an attempt is made on every ocassion to change the
character of the war and to elevate the miserable nigger, not only to political
rights, but to put him in your Army, and while this policy is pursued the Union
will never be restored, because you can have no Union without the preservation
of the Constitution.
Note: Mr. Saulsbury, a Democrat,
was the most uncouth among the senators in the use of language, though some
other of them earlier used the word "wenches" to refer to African
women. Most of the senators referred to the Africans as "negroes," or
"colored people" or "blacks."
Mr. Carlile, of Virginia: I desire to inquire
of the Senator from Iowa if negroes constitute a part of the militia of his
State. I know they do not constitute a part of the militia of the State in
which I live, and I am not aware that they constitute a part of the militia of
any State in this Union. As I caught the reading of the amendment, it provides
for enrolling as a part of the militia the negroes of the country. Now, sir,
who constitute the militia is settled by the laws of the several States and I
hold the Congress has no power to determine who shall compose the militia of
the States in this Union. This is a subject of State regulation. I do not
think this amendment is an effort to elevate the negro to an equality with the
white man, as the Senator from Delaware does; but I do think the effect of this
legislation will be to degrade the white man to the level of the negro.
Mr. Saulsbury: I accept that suggestion.
Mr. King, of New York: Let me move to amend
Mr. Grimes's proposed amendment with this: be it enacted further that the President is authorized to receive into the service of the United
States, for the purpose of constructing intrenchments, or performing camp
service, or any other labor, or any war service for which there may be found
competent persons of African descent, and such persons shall be enrolled and
organized under regulations, not inconsistent with the Constitution; and that
whenever any such person serves the country in this manner, he, his mother and
his wife and children shall be forever free, any law to the contrary
Note: Mr. King's proposed
amendment runs afoul of the realities of slavery. The civil law of the slave
States did not recognize that a male African slave might have a
"wife."Ditto, for "children." One white citizen might
"own" the male," another the "wife," another the
Mr. Grimes: I accept the provision if I have
the power to do so.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. It may be done by unanamious consent.
Is there any objection? The Chair hears none.
Mr. Saulsbury: I wish to know what is the
question before the Senate?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York proposes to
strike out the first two sections of the amendment of the Senator from Iowa and insert instead what has just been read.
Mr. Saulsbury: The proposition is to authorize
the President to call into the service free negroes. This is a wholesale scheme
of emancipation. Under this proposition the President can go into any State and
call into service every slave and if he does that your law makes the slave and
his family free. The work goes bravely on, sir. Here is the most magnificent
scheme of emancipation yet proposed. How long will you keep the Army in the
field after adopting such a policy? Do you believe that free white soldiers of
this country will fight side by side with negroes? You will have no armies in
the field, in my judgment.
Mr. Sherman, of Ohio: The question must be
decided whether the negro population of the country shall be employed only by
the rebels. Their labor has furnished the rebels with food, entrenchments, and
camp service. The question is, shall the Union employ the labor of a race of
men whose interests, whose sympathies, whose whole hearts are with the loyal
people of the Union in suppressing this rebellion.
The policy of the officers of the Army so far, has been to
repel this class of people from our lines, to refuse their services. They would
have made the best spies, and yet they have been driven from our lines. They
would have relieved our soldiers from many a hard task, many an irksome duty,
but instead of that our soldiers have been made to guard the property of the
owners of those slaves. The slaves have been employed to uphold the rebellion
and our soldiers have been put as guards around the homes of slaveowners.
I do not believe that the whites and blacks will ever mingle
together in terms of equality. I think the law of caste is the law of God. You
cannot change it. The whites and the blacks will always be separate, or where
they are brought together one will always be inferior to the other. That,
however, is not the question now. Here are the blacks in our country, millions
of them. They are our natural friends in this war. Now shall we avail ourselves
of their services? That is the question.
Note: Mr. Sherman is a
Mr. Saulsbury: I ask the Senator, is it within
the power of Congress to pass this bill?
Mr. Sherman: I have no doubt it is constitutional
for Congress, in raising armies, to enroll both whites and blacks, free and slave.
And it is equally clear that Congress may, when military service is required,
deprive a master of the labor of his slave. But this right is measured by the
military necessity and when exercised against a loyal citizen should be
accompanied with compensation.
It is true that by the militia law of Ohio, negroes do not
muster with whites. They are not enrolled as part of the militia, and why?
Because the prejudice of caste separate the white from the black and always
will; but in a time of necessity, you have the same right to call on the negro,
slave or free, as you have to call upon the Senator from Delaware.
Ordinarily, to arm negroes would be shocking, but now we
have to choose between their employment and the destruction of our country.
Mr. President, until we learn a little enegry from those
desperate men who are engaged in this warfare against us, we cannot expect to
succeed. We must follow, to some extent, their bad example. It is true, that
the best mode to conduct war is to regard all persons and all property as
exempt except the armed forces of the enemy. But this is a desperate war and
our enemy has no problem marching side by side with negroes. The law of
retaliation is the only law that will bring these mad men to their senses.
Note: Here, Mr. Sherman expresses
in a nutshell the law of nations which the Union Government is about to ignore
by establishing the policy reflected in the Emancipation Proclamation. The law of nations does not recognize as an exception to the rule that private property of civilians may not be confiscated, that the war is "desperate;" only "military necessity" provides an exception and the armies' use of such property must be limited to the time in which the necessity exists.
Sir, I think the time has come when we must seize the slaves
of the disloyal, when we must seize their property, when we must inaugurate
their system of warfare and array the whole physical power of this country and
enter this war in earnest. If it is necessary to put down this rebellion I
would arm the slaves and let them march and live upon the country wherever they
go. Suppose Jeff Davis with his army should go into Maryland and Pennslyvania,
do you suppose they would pay, dollar for dollar, for everything they take? If
they were to reach a region of the country which does not recognize their
authority, they would burn and desolate and rob and plunder and murder.
In fact, Lee's army, in entering Maryland, in 1862, did take supplies from the
countryside, his officers giving the owners Confederate script in exchange. In
1863, Lee's army removed a great amout of farm animals, foodstuffs and other
things. There seems to be little evidence that his army robbed,
plundered, or murdered. The bridge at Wrightsville, though, was burned. The Union armies, on the other hand, were notorious in the mayhem they
brought to bear against the civilian populations of the States they romped
I tell you, Mr. President, that you cannot conduct warfare
against savages unless you become half savage yourself. I do not know any other
way to bring this war to an end.
Mr. Fessenden, of Maine: The bill is thought
to be a necessity. We might as well tell the truth about it here and have it understood
by the country. I am ready to say that, from information received from my
State, there is not that readiness to enlist that there was; there is not that
enthusiasm with regard to enlistments; men do not rush forward and tender their
services as they did awhile ago. The people in my State feel that the war must
be conducted on some different principles from those upon which it has been
conducted so far; that is to say that, on the part of the military officers,
there should not be that extreme tenderness and delicacy with regard to men who
have no tenderness, except that of the wolf for the lamb, toward us; that they
shall be met with the same spirit that is able to resist a determination and a
feeling of that description.
Sir, our soldiers do not like it; they do not feel easy that
they are called upon, when it is not necessary, to protect the property of the
Sir, what do we owe these traitors? What makes some
gentlemen on the other side of the Chamber so sensitive the moment that you
speak of employing negroes, the slaves of rebels, in the service of the
country? Why do they jump to their feet the moment the idea is suggested? Why
should we not weaken the enemy and attack him at his weakest point? Do you say
we are proposing abolition by it, or emancipation? Not at all. We are proposing
simply to use those arms and nothing more. Why should men who come to our
camps, be turned away?
Sir, you cannot deal with savages in this way. The man who
sets himself to overthrow his government is worse than a savage.
We want more men for this war. Why not say so at once, tell
the truth that we want them; appeal to the people, let them know what is
required for the sake of the country.
Mr. Rice, of Minnesota: I have only a few
words to say. It has now become a certainty with all reasonable men, who have
thought upon this subject at all, that not many days can pass before the people
of the United States north must decide upon one of two questions: we have
either to acknowledge the southern confederacy as a free and independent
nation, and that speedily, or we have to speedily resolve to use all means
given us to prosecute this war to a successful termination.We are expending the
money of our citizens; we are almost daily losing by sickness and otherwise
thousands of lives, and at the rate this loss has been going on, it will take
but a few months more before our Army is reduced to a state that is worthless.
I admit that at one time I was not in favor of employing
blacks. I did not believe it was good policy, but Great Britain employs several
regiments of blacks on our border with Canada; if this can be done why can we
not do it?
Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts: In the present
condition of the country, with the wrecks of humanity that are floating over
the land ruined in health in the military service, or who have been wounded in
the field, in view of the fact that death has entered so many families, I
believe it will be very difficult at this time to raise, by volunteering, the
number of men necessary to support the cause of the country. It seems to me
that we need men at once, at the earliest possible moment, and I doubt that we
can raise men for the next forty days any faster than will be necessary to
supply the actual loss that will take place during those forty days. I believe
the bill, therefore, is necessary.
Now a word in regard to the action of the Government in
stopping recruiting. The fact is, that for thirty days before the order was
issued closing up the recruiting stations, the recruiting had ceased
altogether, and we had not raised five hundred men for a month before that
order was issued. I trust that the experience of the last few weeks has taught
the Government and taught our military leaders a lesson. Sir, the country is
flooded today with the letters of your brave volunteers, men among the living
and the dead, depicting their suffering in swamps and ditches, toiling to build
up fortifications, and their sufferings in guarding rebel property and
protecting those who would smite them down in any hour.
Note: This is a very telling
statement by Mr. Wilson. It is always easy for a government to draw its people
into a war; war is a lark at the beginning, bands playing, young men marching,
flags waving, but once the body bags and the maimed come home the reality that
war is horrible sets in, and governments, unless they pay huge sums to entice
the young people in, have to resort to conscription―after all, don't
governments own every single human being under their control? Oh no,
some politician cries, "It's merely a feeling of patriotism, a duty of
allegiance that rules."
Sir, I am for raising voluntarily every man we can; I am for
drafting the last man that can carry a rifle to uphold the cause of the
country. This rose water way of carrying on the war must cease.
Now a word about the amendment, to use the loyal colored men
to uphold the cause of the country. The Senator from Delaware asks if American
soldiers will fight if we organize colored men for military purposes. Did not
American soldiers fight at Bunker Hill with negroes in the ranks? Did they not
fight on the battlefield with American soldiers in Rhode Island? Did they not
fight on every battlefield of the Revolution? It is said that General Halleck
built two hundred miles of corduroy road, and forty-five miles of
fortifications. Everyone knows the great burdens on the Army of the Potomac. The shovel and the spade and the ax have ruined thousands of the young men and
sent hundreds of them to their graves. We could have employed thousands of
colored men at low rates of wages to do that ditching, and thus save the health
of our soldiers.
Note: Is this exploitation, or
simply quid quo pro—freedom for labor in dangerous circumstances?
Mr. Davis, of Kentucky: I am for the
reconstruction of the Union. I believe the only principle and means by which
that reconstruction is possible, is by the employment of the full legitimate
military power of the country, and not by arming slaves and attempting to form
a military force of them.
Note: Mr.Davis is, like Cowan, a
close thinker who has a clear grasp of the political realities.
no issue with negroes digging ditches. We hear that the general in charge of
the army down around Vicksburg has employed thousands of them to dig a ditch.
When a general is commanding in the field, and he has occasion for the labor of
horses and oxen, what does he do? He impresses them into the service of the
Army. Just so, if that general may need the services of negroes for the purpose
of fortifying, or ditching. But when the general has done with the negro, the
negro is no longer useful in his camp for the purpose of labor, let him be
discharged, sent away like other property. I protest against placing arms in
the hands of the negro and making a soldier of him.
Has it come to this, Mr. President, we have run out of white
men enough to put down this rebellion? We must rely on the negro? I protest
against such a degrading position as that.
I know the negro well; I know his nature. He is, until
excited, mild and gentle; he is affectionate and faithful, too; but when his
passions have been inflamed and aroused, you find him a fiend, a latent tiger
fierceness in his heart, and when he becomes excited by a taste of blood he is
a demon. Such is the nature of the race.
Note: Such is the nature of man.
Mr. Wilkinson: I wish to remind the Senator
from Kentucky of the proclamation which General Jackson issued after the battle
of New Orleans, complimenting his negro soldiers for the manner in which they
conducted themselves. The Senator seems to think that negroes are inhuman when
they once smell blood. I send to the desk the proclamation.
Mr. Davis: Mr. President, the proclamation was
not addressed to slaves, but to free colored persons. The mulattos of New Orleans, educated businessmen, men of intelligence.
Mr. Wilkinson: Mr. President―
Mr. Davis: No, sir; excuse me if you please.
In the extreme stress at New Orleans General Jackson did not propose a
conscription for all the slaves, or any of them, much less to emancipate them,
but summoned the free colored people.
Now, do you want these seceded States back? If you force
them back, and cannot change their heart, they will only be a source of
unceasing trouble, expense, disturbance, and war to the rest of the nation. If
the work is to be done at all, you must adopt a line of policy that will build
up a Union party in the South, and to that you must hold up to them the
Constitution with none of its provisions broken.
When you ask us, will you take general confiscation of the
property of all the disloyal; abolition of slavery, the slaves to remain in
their localities; will you agree to our arming them and making them soldiers to
fight the battle of the Constitution, which Constitution guaranted them as
property to their owners, will you take all these atrocities? We answer, never!
this Union cannot be preserved by the white man, there are no conditions upon
which it can be saved. If you put arms into the hands of the negroes and make
them feel their power, you will whet their fiendish passions, make them the
destroying scourge of the Cotton States, and you will bring on a condition that
will make restoration hopeless.
Mr. Rice: The Senator's whole argument has
gone to show that we of the North were making war upon the border States, upon
the Union men of the border States, and he has held up to us the atrocities
that will be committed upon his family and upon the families of the Union men
in the border States. Who is it, sir, that has defended the Union men in the border States and those pretending to be Union men? It has been the North. They have saved
their wives and children and property. I am not in favor of massing the negroes
and putting arms in their hands, but I am in favor of employing them in this
war. If you look at the history you will see that 300,000 Confederate soldiers
are worth 500,000 of ours. Why is this so? All the building of roads and
bridges, all the camp duty, all the menial services among them is performed by
I was much gratified at one remark the Senator made; and
that was if the southern confederacy is successful, it was not the end of
secession. That I believe. If they were successful in this contest, the
northern States, the free States, would soon divide; first, the West from the
East; and eventually mountain range and every lake and principal river would
form the boundary line of some petty principality. Such being the case I deem
the Union worth saving and every loyal man should be willing to contribute his
last dollar and his last meal in its defense.
Mr. Davis: Will the honorable Senator allow me
to ask him one question?
Mr. Rice: Certainly.
Mr. Davis: If the Confederates violate the
usages and customs of war does he want our Government and our armies to be
guilty of the same violation?
Mr. Rice: If a stranger had been here to
listen to your speech he would think you are the ambassador from the
Confederacy speaking on its behalf.
Mr. Davis: Mr. President—
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota is
entitled to the floor.
Mr. Davis: I say that I have said nothing that
authorizes him to make that statement.
Mr. Rice: The Senator has spoken as though the
people of the North are warring on him.
Mr. Davis: It is not so.
Mr. Grimes: I call the Senator to order.
Mr. Davis: Let the gentleman protect himself.
Mr. Rice: I have no objection to the Senator
venting himself any way he wishes.
Mr. Wilson: I move that the Senate proceed to
the consideration of executive business.
On motion of Mr. Wilson, the Senate proceeded to executive
July 10, 1862
Army of the Potomac
Mr. Chandler, of Michigan: I move now that the
Senate move to the consideration of the resolution offered by me a few days
ago. (The resolution is to ask the President to produce all communications
between the Government and General McClellan relative to his advance against Richmond.)
Mr. Wright, of Indiana: Mr. President, when
the resolution was read the other day, I could not refrain an expression of
surprise that in the midst of such a crisis as the present that an inquiry
should be set on foot, the result of which must be to divide the friends of
Union and to unite the enemies of the Union. The Senator proceeded in language
and manner sufficiently violent and declamatory, to give the impression he
meant to bring contempt and dishonor upon General McClellan. It is not to my
taste to go back to the field of Manassas and to say that two hundred thousand
men were held at bay by less than 30,000 rebels. I know little of the art of
war. I am willing to trust the men in command of the Army. Judging from the
explosive rhetoric of the Senator who takes pains to call General McClellan a
Mr. President, General McClellan has not been a newspaper
general. He has not sought to write himself into renown, or court others so to
do. Not one word has General McClellan offered to defend himself against the
charges of the Senator. His reticence and silence has been remarkable. A more
implusive man―and we are told that youth is most impulsive and General
McClellan is a very young man—would have rushed into print and insisted upon
such a defense of his conduct as would at least assure his friends that was not
indifferent to his fame. His studied silence is probably his surest
I will say that, in my humble opinion, that his ten days
campaign upon the peninsula, with an army that he tells us was so much smaller
than that of the rebel enemy, out-tongues complaint, and will arouse admiration
among our loyal people. Some will say that the general was surprised and taken
unaware, and that all the allegations that his moves were planned are untrue. I
will say only that the conflict displayed on his part uncommon genius,
perseverance, and ability; that his troops were heroic and that he saved them
from annihilation and captivity. Sir, I know not where in the history of
nations you can point to a seven days' conflict, with the same number of men
engaged, where there was more science and skill exhibited by the commander than
General McClellan exhibited in this contest.
What must be the feelings of that general when he is charged
upon this floor with disloyality; when it is promulgated in this body that
every move of his for the last six months would be precisely what Jeff Davis
would have desired? Is it possible that we can sustain this Government in this
Mr. Chandler: Mr. President, the Senator from Indiana misunderstands me. It is well known that the press for weeks has been filled with
denunications of the Secretary of War, calling for his removal, and for what?
For failing to have furnished McClellan with reinforcements. I admitted what
the press claimed, that a crime had been committed. I denied that Stanton was the criminal and I simply asked for the evidence that he was a criminal.
What are the facts of the case? I stated that the Army of
the Potomac, on the day that it marched to Manassas, had two hundred and thirty
thousand soldiers upon its rolls. When that army was divided and a large force
taken to the peninsula, it was well known that a portion of that army was to be
left behind to protect the capital. It was decided that forty-five thousand men
should be left here to defend the capital. The evidence shows, though, that
McClellan left behind only nineteen regiments. The President at once ordered an
army corps to stand between the enemy and Washington. Had McClellan's order
taking all away but nineteen regiments been carried out, Jackson would have
been in Washington before the 15th of April, but the President intervened. I
say the President and Secretary Stanton have sent to McClellan every man that
could be spared from the defense of Washington. Is it not proper that the
country know this evidence?
Note: It was just not militarily
possible that Jackson, with at that time two divisions of infantry, could have
gotten as far as Jubal Early did with a corps in 1864, much less had gotten in Washington.
Mr. Saulsbury: I am not disposed to meddle in
this matter, but I want to know what number of soldiers there were in the valley of Virginia, in West Virginia, and in front of Washington and also at Baltimore.
Note: Mr. Saulsbury has touched
on the tender point: Lincoln had control of over 45,000 men operating independently
of McClellan; he simply put them to uses that took them away from the Manassas
Plain, and then he complained he didn't have enough men.
Mr. Wright: What does the Senator from Michigan want? He says he wants the record. Has it come to this, that in a controversy of
this kind the newspaper press of the country, that has slandered McClellan, is
to be the basis of a resolution of the Senate?
Let me say this finally. I do not know General McClellan. I
have never met him in my life. But the idea the Senate is to pass resolutions,
calling for this and for that, distrusting our generals, is not good for the
army. I will never vote for a resolution that implies there is any doubt of the
capacity of this general, or that he has not discharged his duty.
Mr. Henderson of Missouri: Let me say that I
have utmost confidence in General McClellan. I believe he is true and loyal and
that he has performed military service in the field in the last two weeks that
will most inevitably distinquish himself beyond all men of his day as a
military commander. But, sir, it will not do for us, every time our Army may
meet with a little reverse, to rise in the Senate and denounce and charge
treason upon the commander.
There is a mistaken notion in respect to the strength and
power of this rebellion. I know that the newspapers throughout the North have
been in the habit for the last six months of disparaging the power and ability
of the rebels to hold out against us in this rebellion. They have invented new
terms of reproach. They have again and again said that the rebels will not
stand and fight us. In fact, they have invented a new word, `skedaddle'
and applied it to the rebels. They say the rebels will run from our troops. I
have never thought so; and we shall find out from this day forth, as we have
found it heretofore, that they will meet us on the field of battle and fight
with a bravery and courage equaled only by the bravery and courage of our own
troops; and it is useless any longer to conceal the fact from the country. It
is useless, when a reverse happens, for the Senate to say it is a consequence
of treason in the commander. It is stupid so to talk.
Sir, this is a great work we have undertaken. It is an
immense territory we have undertaken to conquer. Such a territory and such a
number of people have scarcely ever been conquered in the world. This is the
first reverse we have suffered in some time. Senators have been unable to bear
Sir, if the Army of the Potomac is immediately reinforced,
and a sufficient number of men given to General McClellan, now is the time to
march upon Richmond, and the rebel capital will fall within the next month. Let
that be done and the complaints done with against the commander. They are only
calculated to divide the loyal men of the country. It has been suggested that
if an attempt is made to remove McClellan the army will rise in his favor. Sir,
away with such things as that. If he proves to be incompetent let the President
remove him at once, and put another man in his stead, and the loyal men will
Note: Here is highlighted Lincoln's dilemma with McClellan. McClellan was very well liked by his troops, by
civilians at home, and by a strong contingent of senators and, for that matter,
governors. Peremptorily removing McClellan and substituting somebody else in
his place, Lincoln obviously decided, could not be done. Just as he had
finessed the onset of the war, Lincoln now was moving to finesse the ouster of
The newspapers have told us for months that the rebels are
starving to death, that they have no cannon, no rifles. Why, sir, this is pure
ignorance. When we meet them upon the battlefield, we shall find that they are
men of our own race, of our own blood, and as brave as we are.
Let me say, too, that it is said by some of you on that side
that we border State men are less loyal than you. Let me tell you, sir, that we
ought to understand ourselves better. Suppose that Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland had joined hands with this rebellion at an early day, and passed ordinances of
secession, I ask you what would have been the success of our arms? It is true
Missouri put into the rebel army about ten to twenty thousand men; but we put
into the Union army forty thousand men, and we are ready to put the twelve thousand
that may be apportioned to us under the recent call into the field, and if that
is not sufficient we are ready to put in twelve thousand more. We are ready to
give the men, to give the means, to do everything necessary to crush this
rebellion and to restore the Union again as our fathers made it.
Note: As Lincoln intuitively
knew, had the mass of Missouri's young men gone to the Confederate Army,
coupled with the mass of Kentucky's, Grant's army, as well as Buell's, would
have been crushed at Shiloh.
And let me say another thing, about this negro business of
soldiering. You may honestly believe it is a proper plan to seize upon the
negroes of the South and to use them as soldiers. I should regret it. You may
muster as many as these black soldiers as you please, but I tell you when you
muster them in, you must send two regiments of Yankees to stand behind them,
and then there will be a great danger of those regiments being run over by them
when the firing begins. They will not make soldiers. You cannot make soldiers
of them. But, sir, I have wandered from the subject. If General McClellan is
loyal, and I believe he is, he should remain at the head of our forces. If he
Mr. Chandler: Mr. President, I wish to correct
a statement that I have charged General McClellan with disloyalty. I charged
him with no such thing. I said I considered the divison of the army and the sending
of half of it to the peninsula as a great military blunder. I made no charge of
Mr. Henderson: No man with the military
science of General McClellan, unless his heart be corrupt, would ever have
blundered accidentally upon all the scientific moves Jeff Davis would have
made. Had we, here, not spoken up, it would have gone to the country that we
think the man who was conducting our armies was designing, by every movement he
could make, to put our armies in the hands of Jeff Davis. I am glad you have
set the issue of disloyalty to rest.
Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois: I regard it as a
little singular that Senators rise and seek to lay it down as undisputed that
General McClellan has done exactly right. The Senators say that General
McClellan does not stop to defend himself. He does not enter the newspapers,
nor do his friends for him. Have not the Senators read the newspapers of the
last ten days, filled with articles showing the strategic ability of McClellan,
showing how he was drawing the enemy into a trap?
Note: On June 26, as the battle
of Gaines Mill was playing out, Mac wrote his wife, Mary Ellen: "I believe
we will surely win and that the enemy is falling into a trap." According
to Webster's Dictionary, "trap" means "any stratagem designed to
catch an unsuspecting person."How his falling back to Harrison's Landing
might constitute a trap for General Lee, McClellan does not say.
If the Senator from Missouri had been told that all the
armies of the Union, half a million men, were to be placed under the command of
a single individual, and that individual was to have marshalled under his
immediate command two hundred and thirty thousand men, with authority to
control all the other troops of the Union, and he was to hold these men under
his command not only for ninety days, but through the whole season of the fall
of the year, through the whole winter, through the whole spring, and into
midsummer, and never make an attack upon the rebels—would he have selected an
individual to command who has done that thing, if he were told this a year ago
Note: This is an exact statement
of the case.
Mr. Henderson: I will repeat what I said
before. That the country has been in error as to the strength of the rebels. I
recollect when General Sherman, in Kentucky, at one time said it would require
one hundred thousand―[Mr. Davis. Two hundred thousand]—to
proceed through the State of Kentucky, the newspapers said he was deranged. I
recollect that afterwards, when our forces undertook to go through Kentucky, it took over one hundred thousand men.
Mr. Trumbull: Now, I wish to say a word about
this over and underestimating the force of the enemy. I disagree entirely with
the Senator. The difficulty is that we have been overestimating the force of
the enemy. We have been acting on the defensive.
We are engaged in a war to put down a rebellion. It is not a
war with an independent nation, where we may wait upon that nation to attack
us, but it is a war with rebels, and for every day that the war is prolonged
the rebels gain strength; their government becomes consolidated, men become
accustomed to that Government, and their interests become identified with it.
Note: Here, again, crops up the
difference in concept, of theory, of the political nature of the war. If Lincoln's Government were to have waited for the Confederacy to attack it, it would have
waited quite awhile, as history records the undisputed fact that the
Confederacy was not acting the part of a military agressor. It was not in the
shoes of the United States attacking Japan, Germany, Viet Nam, or Iraq. It was in the shoes of a country defending itself against a stronger power intent on
How can you have unbounded confidence in a general, under
such circumstance, who for a year has not struck a blow? Has the general ever
made an attack, or has he always waited to be attacked? Can a rebellion ever be
put down by acting on the defensive, by building entrenchments, by waiting for
the rebels to come and attack you?
Note: Trumbull's use of the
phrase, "strike a blow" is the theme of the agressor; to conquer you
must strike blows. You must charge the enemy out. On April 6, 1862, as
McClellan approached Yorktown, Lincoln wrote him: "You now have over
100,000 men. I think you better break the enemies's line at once." Three
days later, on April 9, when McClellan said he had only 85,000 men, Lincoln wrote him: "I suppose the whole force is with you now; and if so, I think it
is the precise time for you to strike a blow. . . You must act."And
on April 10th, Lincoln wrote McClellan, "I think it is the precise time to
strike a blow. . . and once more let me tell you it is indispensible to you to strike a blow." On May 1, Lincoln wrote McClellan: "Your call for
the Parrott guns argues indefinite procrastination. Is anything to be
done?" On May 25, incredibly, Lincoln wrote McClellan this―"I
think the time is near when you must either attack Richmond or give up the job
and come to the defense of Washington."On May 26, he wrote, "Can you
get near enough to throw shells into the city?"
I have heard the strength of these rebels stated here time
and again. There are only four or five million white people with whom we are
contending; a very little larger population than there is in the State of New York; and the whole rebel States are not equal today in arms, in materials of war, or
anything else, to the State of New York alone. She is compact; she could bring
her men into the field promptly, while these southern States extend over
thousands of miles, with a scattered population, and a large slave population
that has to be looked after, and yet we are told we have underated their
strength. Sir, we have overestimated it, and waited to act on the defensive,
instead of striking this wicked rebellion, and crushing it by active movements
upon it; that has been the trouble.
Note: ". . . crushing it by
active movements upon it."The politicians are pressing Lincoln to do this
and Lincoln is pressing his generals, both Halleck and McClellan, to do this;
and, instead of the politicians' idea of what "active movement"
means, the generals, both of them, are following the principles of military
science, taught to them at West Point, husbanding their resources in manpower,
as they advance prudently to close with the enemy in a desperate life and death
struggle for a strategic point.
guns almost within range of Richmond
I shall not go into the conduct of General McClellan. I
shall express no opinion about it. The country can judge for itself when it
sees the results. The country sees that weeks and months were spent in digging
intrenchments and throwing up fortifications, and that thousands of lives were
sacrificed, and yet when the enemy approaches, your intrenchments are left and
your guns hauled away without scarcely the appearance of a battle. The battles
that were fought, were fought outside of the intrenchments and on the retreat
and the enemy had all the benefit of pursuing a retreating foe. We know, sir,
that the retreat was ordered from the west side of the Chickahominy without any
considerable battle taking place Friday night. True, sir, a battle had been
fought on the east side of the river in which a small portion of our troops
were engaged, where they met and were overwhelmed by a superior rebel force. I
hope this resolution may be passed, so the country knows what happened.
Mr. Wilson: I move to take up the bill to
augment the Militia with negro soldiers.
Several Senators: Let us vote on the
Mr. Chandler: If the Senator will give way I
think we can have a vote.
Mr. Wilson: I have given way and we have got
speech after speech.
Mr. Anthony: I hope the Senator will not give
way. This debate will last all day.
Mr. Davis: I understand that what has produced
this resolution is the attacks by the newspapers upon the Secretary of War. I
think he deserves censure. In a short time after his appointment he manifested
a very great hostility toward General McClellan. When General Lander had a
small, but successful skirmish with the enemy, Stanton published a proclamation
praising Lander and censured McClellan. McClellan had explained the reason he
had not moved toward Manassas was the condition of the roads, and Stanton used Lander's success to show that the roads were passable. We all know, too, that
Stanton entered into an intrigue in the Cabinet to induce the President to
remove General McClellan but the President did not agree.
Mr. Wilson: I took that as a mistake.
Mr. Davis: As a consequence of Stanton's intrigue, General McClellan was induced to lay his plan of campaign before a
board of generals, twelve in number, and eight approved it and four disapproved
it. I know that Stanton has been inimical to McClellan, and that he has time
after time controverted his capacity for command, that he has issued a stream
of disparagement against McClellan and I condemn him for it.
Mr. Chandler: The Senator is mistaken as to
the council. That council was held to decide whether the enemy should be
attacked at Manassas or left alone, that the Potomac should be left blockaded,
and the army should be taken to Annapolis and shipped to the rear to attack,
the council approved this, and the President rejected it, insisting that the
army go to Manassas and attack directly.
Mr. Wilson: I do not think the Secretary of
War disparaged General McClellan at all. As I understand it there were three
plans to go to Richmond. One, I think, originated with General Rosecrans, and
that was to make the movement up the Shenandoah Valley, because it could
furnish sufficient supplies for the army as it moved, and then it would
approach Richmond from the right direction, throwing the enemy toward the
tidewater. I understand Stanton thought this the best movement. There was
another plan, to go to Fredericksburg, and from there move on Richmond. Then
there was General McClellan's plan. I know a great many men who believed that
was not the best plan. They are confirmed in it now.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is now on the
resolution. The question being taken by yeas and nays, resulted―yeas 34,
nays 6. So the resolution was agreed to.
The Militia Act To Make Africans, Soldiers
On motion of Mr. Wilson the Senate, as in Committee of the
Whole, resumed consideration of Senate Bill (S,No. 384) to amend the Militia
Mr. Collamer: The Constitution provides that
the militia shall be organized by act of Congress. The Congress, in 1792,
passed a law organizing the militia, and in that law it was provided that the
miltia should be composed of all free white male citizens. But in relation to
the Army there is no law forbidding the enlistment of colored people.
I see that some confusion has come over us in regard to
volunteers and militia. Volunteers are really militia raised by the States,
commissioned by Governors. The confusion comes because we passed an act that
allows the President to call for volunteers directly which he can organize as
United States Volunteers outside the State militia system. Under that Act the
President gave out orders forming brigades and divisions. I do not understand
why the Government has not the right to the use of every man in the country,
black or white, for its defense, and every horse, and every particle of
property, every dollar. That is the eminent domain.
Mr. King, of New York: I think it is time that
we say to these people who will take up arms, or take up shovels and their
spades and their hoes, that they who will come to this service shall be free.
Let us be men and treat these people as men.
Mr. Howe. Of Wisconsin: Mr. President, I wish
we could pass this bill. I understand there is a debate in the country right
now, whether we achieved a victory or sustained a defeat the other day down on
the James River. If we sustained a defeat I suppose it was because of one of
two reasons: either we did not have enough men down there or the men we had
were not well handled. If the trouble is that the men were not well handled, we
are helpless. We picked out a man one year ago to handle that force and he is
there and we must allow him to handle it, until the Constitution authorizes us
to put another in his place. But if the trouble was too few men, then I think
we better order up the reserves.
We have got a large reserve. It is said we have a large army
in the field. It is but a tithe, a drop, in comparsion with the great ocean of
physical force which still lies behind us. Let us order that up, let us not
dole it out, peddle it out to our commander. In point of fact we have been a
little too modest, and a little too prudent and economical about these matters.
Mr. Cowan: The problem is the mode by which we
are proceeding. All agree that negroes can be useful for some purpose. But how
to use them? The question is, whether we will employe negroes in our armies,
and in our regular Army, because I know you can place them nowhere else, unless
you make a new law authorizing the militia to be composed of them. If you alter
your law so as to put the negroes of the free States in the militia you will
not get a white man to come here. Unless you alter the law, there is nowhere to
put them but in the Army, and to that there is not any impediment by any law.
The President has full authority over that decision.
Mr. Wilkenson: I can say there is one policy
of the Government that should be changed, that is taking Union soldiers to
guard the house of a rebel general, protecting it, and keeping them up at night
while the inmates are sleeping quietly in their beds. That is one policy I want
are speaking about Mrs. Lee's Cottage at White House Landing
On the Pamunkey River
Mr. Cowan: I have heard a great deal about
that, and I beg the country to pause before they pass judgment suddenly upon
that. How is a general to maintain order and discipline in his army if he
allows his soldiers to plunder? Why, sir, the answer is obvious. This is one of
the necessary and unpleasant consequences of the war; but it is absolutely
necessary to its successful carrying on. If our soldiers, when they go down
there to suppress this rebellion, are not to guard private property, if they
are not to prevent outrage, if they are not to observe the strictest discipline
and to behave themselves according to the laws of war as established among all
civilized nations, our Army becomes a mob, and our war becomes a war of
extermination. There may be hardship in the fact that our sons, our brothers,
or our fathers may be obliged to stand guard over the property of a rebel, and
it may be disagreeable, but all this war is hardship from beginning to end. I
have no complaint to make against a general who perserves order. If he allowed
his soldiers to plunder the private property of the people down there, if he
allowed women and children to be insulted and outraged, I should have great
quarrel with him about that. Because the owner happened to be a rebel general,
that is no reason why his house should be given up to pillage, his wife and
children turned out of doors, and everything that has been respected in
civilzed war be outraged.
Ruins of Mrs.
July 11, 1862
Mr. Davis: Mr. President, the question is,
shall the President be authorized by this bill to arm the negro slaves of the United States? Sir, we are invading the southern States. The slaves in four or five of
these States in the aggregate are about equal to the white populations in them.
The great mass of that population is women and children. We are against the use
of slaves in this case, because they will be called to precipitate themselves
against and upon a helpless population, and from their nature and disposition,
and from the manner in which their passions can be inflamed, they could not be
restrained within the rules of war.
Sir, I believe there are some in Congress who have taken
part in this avenging crusade against slavery whose passions have been inflamed,who,
if the negroes were to rise and massacre the whole white population of South
Carolina, would be monsters enough to rejoice over the horrible immolation.
Sir, we of the present day did not bring slaves into Kentucky. We found them there. We do not retain them because it is in our interest to do
so. We know that in that State slave labor is more costly labor than free labor
would be if the slaves were away. We know that the free labor of Indiana and Illinois is a cheaper labor to him who employs it and pays for it than the
slave labor of our State.
We have two hundred and fifty thousand slaves there.
The question, and the great grievance with us, is not so much the giving up of
the slaves as leaving them among us. As I have said here again and again, if
the question could be submitted to the people of Kentucky, will you consent to
give up your slaves for a full and fair compensation, they to remain with, or
you to have nothing for your slaves and they to be removed out of the country,
the latter proposition would be accepted ten times where the other would not be
considered at all.
Note: Senator Davis was a very
astute man; here he hits the nail on the head―he states the true cause of
the war, the refusal of the white men of the North, in Congress assembled, to
offer compensation and an equitable distribution among all the States, of the
Mr. President, I know that the decree has gone forth that
this measure shall pass. I believe that no voice, however eloquent, could
prevent it. It seems to me that men have swung away from their reason and are
acting entirely from apprehension of the rebels.
Mr. Chandler: Not in apprehension of them.
Mr. Davis: I mean apprehension in this
respect: of the consequences that are to come to your sons and your brothers
from the continuance of the conflict, and that men are now legislating in a
spirit of excitement and revenge. I think it is a subject to be treated with
the greatest coolness, and in strict subordination to the Constitution.
July 12, 1862
Message From The House
A message from the House of Representatives, by Mr. Morris,
Chief Clerk, announced that the House had agreed to the report of the committee
of conference on the disagreeing votes of the two houses on the bill (HR No.
471) to confiscate the property of rebels.
Note: Gideon Welles's
"Diary" reports that on Sunday morning, July 13, while riding in a
carriage with Lincoln and Seward, Lincoln said he was thinking of publishing an
"Emancipation Proclamation."This event occurred the morning after he became
aware that the two Houses of Congress had finally agreed on the language of a
"Let's confiscate the property of rebels" bill. The debate now being
over, regarding the issue and the Congress's idea of how to deal with it, Lincoln simply was voicing what he had been thinking about during the long months the
Confiscation bill was passing through Congress.
July 14, 1862
Enrolled Bills Signed
The message further announced that the Speaker of the House
of Representatives had signed the following enrolled bills and joint
resolution, which thereupon received the signature of the President pro
A bill (HR No. 471) to sieze and confiscate the property of
Note: The President informed
Congress he meant to veto the bill as unconstitutional unless certain changes
were made; i.e., delete the provisions which were in fact and law "Ex Post
Facto" and "Bill of Attainder" provisions. The changes were
debated in the Congress, quickly adopted by resolution, and the bill returned
to the President's desk. He signed the bill on July 17, 1862 and it became law.
In contrast to his apparent
concerns about the constitutionality of the Congress confiscating the
private property of "rebels," Lincoln had no concern that he—as
Commander-in-Chief―might confiscate the property of rebels. Whether he
thought this action might be constitutional or not, history does not say.
On July 21, according to the
historians, Lincoln formally presented a draft of the proclamation to his Cabinet.
On the same day he issued an
order calling for the enlistment of colored men into the Army of the United States. At this point myth takes hold and we are told that Lincoln, at Seward's behest,
put it away until he had a "victory" in battle; when the
"victory" supposedly arrived with the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln published the proclamation on September 21, 1862.
In fact, the Congressional Record
makes plain, Lincoln's proclamation is simply the result of the six month
process whereby the object of the war changed from suppressing a
"rebellion,"and keeping the Union as it was, to conquering a foreign
country and dictating its domestic policies.
Admission of West Virginia
Mr. Powell: I ask for the yeas and nays. The
yeas and nays were ordered, and being taken―resulted yeas 23, nays 17. So
the bill was passed.
July 15, 1862
The Militia Act Again
The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed
consideration of Senate Bill 394.
Mr. Harris: Mr. President, I am in favor of
employing the negroes of the country, slaves or not, to the utmost possible
extent. My belief is, with some exception, that this had already been done. To
show that this is so, I read from a letter recently received from General
McClellan, dated July 12th:
`I perceive by the newspaper reports of
congressional proceedings that there has been considerable discussion on the
subject of requiring military commanders to receive negroes seeking protection
in their camps and to employ them in suitable labor connected with military
service. The fact is that all negroes, male and female, who have come into the
camps of the Army of the Potomac, on the peninsula, have been protected and set
to work, at wages, in performing office which otherwise would have devolved on
our soldiers. The supply has thus far been insufficient for our wants.'
Note: Compare McClellan's
statement, here, to the statement of policy expressed in his July 8th letter
addressed to Lincoln.
Now, sir, that is right. I am in favor of doing that. Let us
have the section providing for the slaves to labor and to be free as a result.
That far I want to go.
Mr. Wright: We have passed a confiscation bill
which gives the President power to employ negroes to work at his discretion. I
believe he had the power without the bill, and I will take the occasion to say
to my friend from New York my information is not of the character given in
General McClellan's letter.
I want, though, to address a different matter. Let me ask
you, have you heard about any bridges being burnt in Missouri, after the
issuance by General Halleck of the order that bridge burners will be summarily
shot? You have gone into the enemy's country to restore order, and while they
have violated every law on earth and defied us, yet the mercy of the Government
forbids still, in a manner, their punishment.
Sir, I might as well be plain about the matter, for I mean
what I say. The fault has been with the Executive of your Government. There has
been no policy. One course has been pursued in the South; another in the East;
another in the West; another in the North; but there has been no uniform and
solid policy. It was your duty when you met in July last to sustain the arms of
the President and to give him a policy. Can we expect peace in this country,
can we expect order, while we are tampering with these men, holding out
inducements to them, offering to accommodate them, and trying to bring them
back into their allegiance by mild means which they are breaking down the
institutions of our fathers?
Note: The Senator is correct.
Since July 1861 Lincoln's policy was to maintain the illusion that the
rebellion was merely an affair of minor percentages of the State populations,
and that, as his government restored order, that order would be
consistent with the universal understanding that, under the Constitution, the
rights of property in Africans were to be respected. To that end, he attempted
to establish state governments in North Carolina and Tennessee and to that end
he placated Kentucky and Missouri while holding Maryland under marital law. But
now the Union armies had occupied all the territory that could be occupied without
adopting the tactics of the conqueror. Only the hard road was now left to him
and he meant to go down it to its bitter end.
Look at the state of things in Kentucky and Missouri today, all growing out of the fact there is no policy, no system, no firmness. We
shall never crush this rebellion until we come out boldy and declare that this
Government belongs to the loyal men of it. He who is not for the Government
must bear the consequences of it. Not only what he has, but all he is in
possession of, must be taken. It was a pretty thing to listen to the Senator
from Pennslyvania [Mr. Cowan] talk about the spectacle of men
going into southern homes and taking possession of the property of women and
children; but, sir, my mind reverted to a sadder spectacle in my own State, all
over which may be found the widows of our slain, clad in the cloth of
bereavement, bright hearthstones made silent and desolate forever, and
beautiful daughters and sons turned out upon the cold, cold charities of this
Sir, I would march with this Senate in a body tonight and
say to the President. `Take all of it.' I always begin to suspect any man's
loyalty when he talks to me about the violation of the writ of habeas
corpus, or this thing or that thing done to sustain the Government.
that we Americans allow the Government
to use the
military to arrest and imprison us without judicial trial.
If we could stop the discussion of this negro question, and
not put it in every bill that comes up, and carry out, as we ought to carry
out, the principles of the confiscation bill, we shall begin to see daylight.
By that bill we can employ these blacks upon fortifications, and in all kinds
of work; I am ready for that. I am ready to sacrifice everything to save this Union; but I do not like to see the Senate, day after day, discussing questions that will
only tend to excite sectional controversy and can produce no good.
I desire to make a remark on another subject. I listened to
the speech of the Senator from Delaware in which he complained about the
sentence Lincoln spoke that the Union cannot survive half slave and half free.
I can tell the gentlemen there is another sentence which has done far more harm
to the Union. When a certain President [Bucannan] wrote these words: `Kansas is
therefore at this moment as much a slave state as Georgia or South Carolina;'
and when that was followed up by a decision of the Supreme Court, that your
fathers and mine made a Constitution that carried slavery where there was no
law for it, it struck as a falsehood and a slander. I go for the doctrines of
Douglas, the true expounder of the Constitution.
Mr. Henderson: The Senator complains of this
negro question. The Senator thinks that if the President will adopt some
policy—I suppose he alludes to the negro question―and carry it out that
this rebellion will be put down. Sir, you will never free slaves, confiscate
property, unless you can enter their territory. How are you going to do it,
with your army scattered in every direction?
The bill was ordered to be read a third time. On its
passage, Mr. Saulsbury called for the yeas and nays and they were ordered; and
being taken, resulted―yeas 28, nays 9. So the bill was passed.
July 16, 1862
In The House Of Representatives
The Militia Act
An act (S.No. 394) to amend the Act calling out the militia.
The bill was read and passed and Mr. Wickliffe demanded the yeas and nays on
the passage of the bill. The yeas and nays were not ordered. The bill was
Mr. Stevens moved to reconsider the vote by
which the bill was passed; and also moved to lay the motion to reconsider on
the table. The latter motion was agreed to.
July 17, 1862
In the Senate
A message from the House of Representatives by Mr. Morris,
Chief Clerk, announced that the House had passed an Act (S No. 394) to amend
the act calling forth the militia.
Bills Become Law
A message from the President announced he has signed a bill
(S. No. 394) to amend the act calling forth the militia.
Whereupon the Senate and House adjourned the second session
of the Thirty-Seventh Congress of the United States.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the problem was, how do you integrate five
million Africans into American society without losing in the process the
allegiance of five million white people? The problem could have been solved by
reasonable accomodation but instead it was solved by war. Why? Because of white
not blue and grey, it's black and white.
What Happened in July 1862
The War In The East
The War In The West