OCR Interpretation

The weekly North-Carolina standard. [volume] (Raleigh, N.C.) 186?-1869, June 13, 1866, Image 2

Image and text provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042148/1866-06-13/ed-1/seq-2/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for

The Late Rebel States Disorganized
ReroBstrottlon belongs exdiisivelv to Congress-'
The following is the report of the
Committee on Reconstruction, submit
ted in the Honse and Senate yester
day: The joint committee of the two houses
of Congress, appointed under the con
current resolution of December 13, 1865,
with direction " to inquire into the con
dition of the States which formed the
and report whether they or any of them
are entitled to be represented in either
house of Congress, with leave to report
Toy bill or otherwise," ask leave to re
port :
That they have attended to the duty
assigned them as assiduously as other
duties would permit, and now submit
to Congress as the result of their delib
erations a resolution proposing amend
ments to the Constitution, and two bills,
of which they recomendthe adoption.
. Before proceeding to set forth in de
tail their reasons for the conclusion to
which, after great deliberation, your
committee have arrived, they beg leave
to advert, briefly, to the course of pro
ceedings they found it necessary to
adopt, and to explain the reasons there
for. The resolutions under which your
committee was appointed directed them
to inquire into the condition of the Con
federate States, and report whether they
were entitled to representation in Con
gress. It is obvious that such an inves
tigation, covering so large an extent of
territory, and involving so many im
portant considerations, must necessarily
require no trifling labor, and consume
a very considerable amount of time.
It must embraace the condition in which
those States were left at the close of the
war; the measures which have been ta
ken toward the organization of civil
government, and the disposition of the
people toward the United States ; in a
word, their fitness to take an active part
in the administration of national af
fairs. As to their condition at the close of
the rebellion, the evidence is open to
all, and admits of no dispute. They
were in a state of titter exhaustion.
Having protracted their struggle against
Federal authority until all hope ot suc
cessful resistance had ceased, and laid
down their arms only because there was
no longer any power to use them, the
people of those States were left bank
rupt in their public finances, and shorn
of the nrivat.e wealth n'lnnii imi h&.
. 1 . . ., . uivii null uluic
given them power and influence. They
were also necessarily in a state of com
plete anarchy, without governments,
and without the power to frame govern
ments, except by the permission of
those who had been successful in the
war. The President of the United
States, in the proclamations under
which he appointed provisional govern
ors, and in his various communications
to them, has in exact terms, recognized
the fact that the people of those 'States
"were, when the rebellion was crashed,
"deprived of all civil government, and
must proceed to organize anew." In
his conversation with Mr. Stearns, of
Jlassachusetts,certified by himself Presi
dent Johnson said: "The State insti
tutions are prostrated, laid out on the
ground, and they must be taken up and
adapted to the progress of events."
Finding the Southern States in this
condition, and Congres having failed to
provide for the contigency, his duty
was obvious. As President of the Uni
ted States he had no power, except to
execute the laws of the land as Chief
Magistrate. These laws gave him no
authority over the subject of reorgani
zation, but by the Constitution he "was
Commander-iu-chief of the army and
navy of the United States. These Con
federate States embraced a portion of
the people of the Union who had been
in a state of revolt, but had been re
duced to obedience by force " of arms.
They were in an abnormal condition,
without civil government, without com
mercial connections, without national
or international relations, and subject
only to martial law. By withdrawing
their representation in Congress, by
renouncing the privilege of representa
tion, by organizing a separate govern
ment, and by levying war against the
United States, they destroyed their
State constitutions in respect to the vi
tal principle which connected their re
spective States with the Union, and sev
ered their federal relations ; and nothing
of those constitutions was left of which
the United States were bouDd to take
notice. For four years they had a de
facto government, but it was usurped
and illegal They chpthe tribunal of
arms wherein to decide whether or not
it should be-legalized, and they were
defeated. At the dose, of the rebellion,
therefore, the people of the rebellious
States were found, as the President ex
presses it, deprived of all civil govern
ment. 6
Under this state of affairs it was plain
ly the duty of the President to enforce
existing national laws, and to establish
as far as he could, such a system pf gov
ernment as might be provided for by
existing national statutes. As Commander-in-Chief
of a victorious army
it was his duty under the law of na
tions and the army regulations to re
store order, to preserve, property, and
to protect the people against violence
from any quarter, until provision should
be made by law for their government.
He might, as President, assemble Con
gress and submit the whole matter to
the law-making power, or he might
continue military supervision and con
trol until Congress should assemble on
its regular appointed day. Selecting
the latter alternative, "he proceeded, by
virtue of his power, as Commander-in-
Chief, to appoint provisional governors
over the revolted States. These were
regularly commissioned, aiid their com
pensation was paid, as the Secretary of
War states " from the appropriation for
army contingencies, ueeause ine amies
performed by the parties were regard
ed as of a temporary cnaracter, ancuia
rv to t.liA withdrawal of military force.
; the disbandment of armies, ana the re-
i duction of military expenditure, by pro-
! visional organization for the protection
; of civil rights, the preservation of peace,
and to take the place ot armed force in
the respective States."
It cannot, we think, be contended that
these governors possesed or could ex
ercise any but military authority. They
j had no powers to organize civil govern
ments, nor to exerc se any authority,
except that which inhered in their own
persons unaer tncir commissions. it'i
ther had the President, as a command
er-in-chief, any other than military pow
er. Uut he was in exclusive possession
ot the mititary authority. It was tor
him to decide how far he would exer
cise it, how far he would relax it, and
on what terms he would withdraw it.
He might properly permit the people to
assemble, and to initiate local govern
ments ami to execnte such local laws as
they might choose to frame, not iiicon
sistent with nor in opposition to the
United States. And, if satisfied that
they might safely be left to themselves,
he might withdraw the military forces
altogether, and leave the people of auy
or all of these Statos to govern them
selves without his interference. In the
language of the Secretary of State, in
his telegram to the provisional govern
or of Georgia, dated Oct. 28, 1865, he
might "recognize the people of any State
as having resumed the relations of loy
ality to the Union," and act, in his mili
tary capacity, on this hypothesis. All
this was within his own discretion, as
militay commander. But it was not
tor him to decide upon the nature or ef
fect of anv system of government which
the people of these States might see fit
to adopt. Ihis power is lodged by the
Constitution in the Congress of the
United States that branch ofthe Gov
ernment in which is vested the author
ity to fix the political relations of the
States to the Union, whose duty it is
toguranteeto eachtate a republican
form of government, and to protect
each and all of them against foreign or
domestic violence, and against each
other. We cannot, therefore, regard
the various acts of the President in re
lation to the formation of local govern
ments in the insurrectionary States, and
the conditions imposed bv him upon
their action, in any other light than as
intimations to the people that as Commander-in-Chief
of the army, he M ould
consent to withdraw military rule just
in proportion as they should, by their
acts, manifest a disposition to preserve
order among themselves, establish gov
ernments denoting loyality to the Uni
on, and exhibit a settled determination
to return to their allegiance leaving
with the lawmaking power to fix the
terms of their final restoration to all
the rights and privileges as States ofthe
Union. That this was the view of his
power taken by the President is evi
dent from expressions to that effect in
the communications of the Secretary of
State to the various provisional govern
ors and the repeated declarations of the
President himself! Auy other supposi
tion inconsistent with it would impute
to the President designs of encroach
ment upon a co-ordinate branch ofthe
Government, which should not belight
ly attributed to the Chief Magistrate of
the nation.
When Congress assembled in Dec
ember last, the people of most ofthe
States lately in rebellion had, under
the advice of the President, organized
local governments, and some of them
had acceded to the tenns proposed by
him. In his annual message, he stated
in general terms what had been done,
but he did not see fit to communicate
the details for the information of Con
gress. While in this and in a subse
quent message the President urged the
speedy restoration of these States, and
expressed the opinion that their condi
tion was such as to justify their restor
ation, yet it is quite obvious that Con
gress must either have acted blindly on
that opinion of the President, or pro
ceeded to obtain the information requis
ite for intelligent action on the subject.
The impropriety of proceeding wholly
on the judgment of any one man, how
ever exalted his station, in a matter in
volving the welfare ofthe Republic in
all future time, or of adopting anv Dlan.
coming from any source, without fully
iuutisuiuuuig an us oeanngs ana com
prehending its full effect, was annarpiit
The first step, therefore, was to obtain
the required information. A call was
accordingly made on the President, for
the information in his possesion as to
what had been done, in order that Con
gress might judge for itself as to the
grounds of the belief expressed by
nini in the fitness of States
m rebellion to participate fully in the
conduct of national affairs. This infor
mation was not immediately communi
ted. When the response was finally
made, some six weeks after vonr com
mittee had been in actual session.it was
found that the evidence unnn whih tha
President seems to have based his sug
gestions was incomplete and unsatifac
tory. Authenticated copies ofthe con
stitutions and ordinances adopted by
the conventions in three of the States
had been submit! ed ; extracts from news
papers furnished scanty imformation as
to the action of one other State, and
nothing appears to have been commu
nicated as to the remainder. There
was no evidence of the loyalty of those
who participated in these conventions,
and in one State alone was any. propo
sition made to submit the action ofthe
convention to the final judgment of the
people. -
Failing to obtain the desirfld informa
tion, and leftte grope for light wherev
er it might be found, your committee
did not deem it either advisable or safe
to adopt, without further examination,
the suggestions of the President, more
especially as he had not deemed it ex
pedient to remove the military force, to
suspend martial law, or to restore the
writ of habeas eorpus,bnt still thought
it necessary to exercise oyer the people
of the rebellious States his military
power -and lhnsdiotion. ihis conclu
sion derived greater force from the fact,
undisputed, that m all those states, ex
cept Tennessee, and perhaps Arkansas.
the elections which were held for State
officers and members of Congress had
resulted almost universally in the defeat
of candidates who had been true to the
Union, and in the election.of notorious
and unpardoned rebels, men who could
not take the prescribed oath ot office,
and whp made no secret of their hos
tility to the government and the peo
ple ot the United States. Under tnese
circumstances anything like hasty ac
tion would have been as dangerous as
it was was obviously unwise.
It appeared to your committee that
but one course remained, viz : to inves
tigate carefully and thoroughly the
state of feeling and opinion existing a
Uiong the people of these States ; to as
certain how far their pretended loyalty
could be relied upon,and thence to infer
whether it would be safe to admit them
at once to a full participation in the
Government they had fought for four
years to destroy. It was an equally
important inquiry whetner their resto
ration to their former relations with
the United States should only be gran
ted upon certain conditions and guaran
tees, which would effectually secure the
nation against a recurrence of evils so
disastrous as those from which it had
escaped at so enormous a sacrifice.
To obtain the necessary information, re
course could only be had to the examination
of witnesses whose position had given them
the best means of forming an accurate judg
ment, who could state facts from their own
observation, and whose character and stand
ing afforded the best evidence of their truth
fulness and impartiality. A work like this,
covering so large an extent of territory, and
embracing such complicated and extensive
inquiries.necessarily required much time and
labor. To shorten the time as much as pos
sible, the work was divided and placed in
the hands of four sub-committees, who have
been diligently employed in its accomplish
ment. The result of their labors has been
heretofore submitted, and the country will
judge how far they sustain the President's
views, and bow tar they justify the conclu
sions to which your committee" have finally
A claim for the immediate admission of
Senators and Representatives from the so
called Confederate States has been urged,
which seems to your committee not to be
founded either in reason oi in law, and
which cannot be passed without comment.
Stated in a few words, it amounts to this :
that, inasmuch as the lately insurgent States
had no legal right to separate themselves
from the Union, they still retain their posi
tions as States, and consequently the eople
thereof have a right to immediate representa
tion in Congress, without the imposition of
any conditions whatever; and further, that
until such admission, Congress has no right
to tax them for the support of the Govern
ment. It has even been contended that, until
such admission, all legislation affecting their
interests is, if not unconstitutional, at least
unjustifiable and oppressive.
It is believed by your committee that all
these propositions are not only wholly un
tenable, but, if admitted, would tend to the
destruction of the Government
It must not be forgotten that the Deorjle
of these States, without justification or ex
cuse, rose in insurrection against the United
States. They deliberately abolished their
State governments, so far as the same con
nected them political.y with the Union as
members thereof under the Constitution.
They deliberately renounced their allegiance
to the Federal Government, and proceeded
to establish an independent government for
themselves. In the prosecution of this en
terprise they seized the national forts, arsen
als, dock-yards, and other public property
within their borders, drove out from among
them those who remained true to the Union,
and heaped every imaginable insult and in
jury upon ttie United States and its citizens.
Finally they opened hostilities and levied
war against the Government. They contin
ued this war for four years with the most
determined and maliguant spirit, killing in
battle and otherwise large numbers of loyal
people, destroying the property of loyal citi
zens on ine sea ana on tne land, and entail
ing on the government an enormous debt in
curred to sustain its rightful authority.
Whether legally and constitutionally or not
they did in fact withdraw from the Union,
and made themselves subjects of another
government of their ov. n creation ; and they
only yielded when, after a long, bloody, and
wasting war, they were compelled by utter
exhaustion to lay down their arms; and this
they did, not willingly, but declar ng that
they yielded because they could no longer
resist, affording no evidence whatever of re
pentance for their crime, and expressing no
regret except that they had no longer the
power to continue the desperate struggle.
It cannot, we think, be denied bv knv nn
having a tolerable acquaintance with public
law, that the war thus waged was a civil war
ot the greatest magnitude. The people wa
ging it were necessarily subject to all the
rules which by the law of nations control a
contest of that character, and to all the legi
timate consequences following it. One of
those consequences was that, within the lim
its prescribed by humanity, the conquered
rebels were at the mercy of the conquerors.
That a Government thus outraged had a
most perfect right to exact indemnity for
the injuries done and security against the
recurrence of such outrages in the future,
would seem too clear-for dispute. What the
nature of that security should be, what proof
should be required of a return to allemance.
what time should elapse before a people thus
demoralized should be restored in full to the
enjoyment of political rights and privileges,
are questions for the law-making power to
decide, and that decision must depend on
grave considerations of the public safety and
the general welfare,
It is, moreover, contended, and with aD-
parent gravity, that from the peculiar nature
ana cnaracter oi our. Government no such
right on the part of the conqueror can exist;
that from the momeut when rebellion lays
down its arms, and actual hostilities cease,
all political rights of rebellious communities
are at once restored; that because the Deo-
ple of a State of the Union were once an or
ganized community within the Union, they
necessarily so remain, and their right to be
represented in Congress at anv and all times.
and to participate m the government ofthe
country unaer all circumstances, admits of
neither question nor dispute. If this is in
deed true, then is the Government of the
United States powerless for its own protec
tion, and flagrant rebellion carried to the ex
treme of civil war is a pastime which any
State may play at, not only certain that it
can lose nothing in any event, but may be
the gainer by defeat If rebellion succeeds,
it accomplishes its purpose, and destroys the
Government If it fails, the war has been
barren of results, and the battle maybe
fought out in the legislative halls of the
country. Treason, defeated in the field, has
only to take possession of Congress and the
Cabinet .-..
. Your committee does not deem it either
necessary or proper to discuss the question
whether the late Confederate States are still
States of this Union, or can ever be other
wise. Granting this profitless abstraction,
about which so many words have been was-.
ted, it by no means follows that the people
of those States may not-place themselves in
a condition to abrogate the powers and priv
ileges incident to a State of the Union, and
deprive themselves of all pretence of right
to exercise those powers and .enjoy those
' privileges. . A State within the Union has
obligations to discharge as a member of the
Union. It must submit to Federal laws and
uphold Federal authority. It must have a
government, republican in form, under and
by which it is connected with the General
Government, and through which it can dis
cbarge its obligations. It is more than idle,
it is a mockery, to contend that a people who
have thrown off their allegiance, destroyed
the' local government which bound these
States to the Union as members thereof, or
cieued it authority, refused to execute its
laws and abrogated every provision which
gave them political rights within the Union,
still retain through all the perfect and entire
ngnt to resume at their own will and pleas
ure all their privileges within the Union,
and especially to participate in its govern
ment, and to control the conduct of its af
fairs. To admit such principles tor one mo
ment would be to declare that treason is al
ways master and loyalty a blunder. ' Such a
principle is void by its very nature and es
sence, Decause inconsistent witn tue theory
of government and fatal to its existence!
On the contrary, we assert that no portion
oi ine people ot this country, whether m
State or Territory, have the right while re
maining on its soil to withdraw from or
neglect the authority of the United States.
They must obey its laws as paramount, and
acknowledge its jurisdiction. They have no
right to secede ; and while tliey can destroy
their State governments and place them
selves beyond the pale of the Union, so far
as the exercise ot State privileges is con
cerned, they cannot - escape the obligations
imposed upon them by the Constitution and
the laws, nor impair the exercise of national
authority. . The Constitution, it will be ob
served,, does ' not act upon States, as such,
but upon the people. While, therefore, the
people cannot escape . its authority, the
States may, through the act of their people,
cease to exist in an organized form, and thus
dissolve their political relations with the
United States. That taxation should be
only with the consent ofthe people, through
their own representatives, is a cardinal prin
ciple ot all tree governments ; but it is not
true that taxation and representation must
go together under all circumstances and at
every moment of time. '. The people of the
District of Columbia and ot the Territories
are taxed, although not represented in Con
gress. Ifitbetrue that the people of the
so-called Confederate States have no right to
throw off the authority of the United States,
it is equally true that they are bound at all
times to share the burdens of government
They cannot either legally or equitably re
fuse to bear their just proportion of these
burdens by voluntarily abdicating their
rights and privileges as States of the Union
and refusing to be represented in the coun
cils of the nation, much less by rebellion
Against national authority and levving war.
To hold that by so doing they could csci pe
taxation wouia De to oner a premium tor in
surrection ; to reward instead of punishing
reason. io noia mat as soon as govern
ment is restored to its full authority it can
be allowed no time to secure itself against
similar wrongs in the future, or else omit the
ordinary exercise of its constitutional power
to compel equal contribution from all to
ward the expenses ofthe government, would
be unreasonable in itself and uniust to the
nation. It is sufficient to reply that the loss
of representation by the people of the insur
rectionary States was their own voluntary
choice. They might abandon their privile
ges, but they could not escape their obliga
tion. And surely they have no right to com
plain, if before resuming their privileges,
and while the people of the United States
are devising means for the public safety, ren
dered necessary by the act of those who thus
disfranchised themselves, they are compelled
to contribute their iust proportion of the
general burden of taxation incurred by their
wicKeanes3 ana iotiy.
Equally absurd is the pretence that the
legislative authority of the nation must be
inoperative, so far as they are concerned,
while they, by their own act have lost the
right to take part in it Such a proposition
carries its own retutation on its tace.
While thus exposing fallacies, which, as
your committee believe, are resorted to for
the purpose of misleading the people, and
distracting t heir attention from the questions
at issue, we freely admit that such a condi
tion of tilings should be brought, if possible,
to a speedy termination. It is most desira
ble that the union of all the States should
become perfect at the earliest moment con
sistent with the peace and welfare of the na
tion, that all these States should become ful
ly represented in the national councils, and
take their share in the legislation of the.
country. The possession and exercise of
more than its just share of power by any
section is injurious, as well to that section as
to all others. Its tendency is distracting
and demoralizing, and such a state of affairs
is only to be tolerated on the ground of a
necessary ' regard to the public safety. As
soon as that safety is secured it should ter
minate. Your committee came to the consideration
of the subject referred to them with the most
anxious desire to ascertain what was the con
dition of the people ofthe States recently in
insurrection, and what, if anything, was
necessary to be done before restoring them to
the full enjoyment of all their original priv
ileges. It was undeniable that the war into
which they had plunged the country had ma
terially changed their relations to the people
of the loyal States. Slavery has been abol
ished by constitutional amendment A large
proportion of the population had become,
instead of mere chattels, free men and citi
zens. Through all the past struggle these
had remained true and loyal, and had in
large numbers fought on the side of the Uni
on. It was impossible to abandon these
without securing them their rights as free
men and citizens. The whole civilized world
have cried out against such base ing-atitude,
and the bare idea is offensive to all right
thinking men. Hence it becomes important
to inquire what could be done to secure their
rights, civil and political. It was evident to
your committee that adequate security would
only be found in appropriate constitutional
provisions. By an original provision of the
Constitution, representation is based on the '
whole number of free persons in each State,
and three-fifths of all other persons. When
all become free, representation of all neces
sarily follows. As a consequence the inevit
able effect of the rebellion would be to in
crease the political power of the insurrec
tionary States, whenever they should be al
lowed to resume their position as States of
the Union. As representation is, " by the
Constitution, -based upon population, your
committee did not think it advisable to re
commend a change of that basis. The exer
cise of representation necessarily resulting
from the abolition of slavery was considered
the most important element in the questions
arising out of the changed condition of af
fairs, and the necessity for some fundamental
action in this regard seemed imperative. It
appeared to your committee that the rights
of these persons, by whom the basis of repny
sentation had been thus increased, should be
recognized by the general government While
slaves they were not considered as having
any rights, civil or political. It did not
seem just or proper that all the political ad
vantages derived from their becoming free
should be confined to their former masters,
who had fonght against the Union, and
withheld from themselves, who had always
been loyal.' - Slavery, by building up a ruling
and dominant class, had produced a spirit of
oligarchy adverse to republican institutions,
which finally inaugurated civil : war.' . The
tendency ot 'continuing the . domination of
such a class by leaving it in the exclusive
possession of political power would be to en
courage the same spirit and lead to a similar
result .Doubts were "entertained whether
Congress had power even under the amended
Constitution to prescribe the qualifications of
voters in a State, or could act directly on the
subject It was doubtful in the opinion of
your committee whether the States would
consent to surrender a power they had always
exercised, and to which they were attached.
As the best, not the only method of sur
mounting all difficulty, and as eminently
just and proper in itself, yoife committee
comes to ine conclusion mat political power
should be possessed in all the States exactly
in proportion as the right of suffrage should
be granted without distinction of color or
race. . .This, it was thought, would leave the
who!'; question with the peopnf each State,
holding out to all the advantage of increased
political poweivas an inducement to allow
all to participate in its exercise. Such a
proposition would he in its nature gentle and
pnrsua'sive, and would lead, it was hoped, at
no distant day, to an equal participation of
all, without distinction, in all the rights and
privileges of citizenship, thus affording a
full and adequate protection to all classes of
citizens, since we would have, through the
ballot-box,the power of self-protection. '
Holding these views, your committee pre
pared an amendment to the Constitution to
carry out this idea, and submitted the same
to Congress. Unfortunately, as we think,
it did not receive the necessary constitutional
support in the Senate, and therefore could
not be proposed for adoption by the States.
The principle involved in that amendment
is, however, believed to be sound, and your
committee have again proposed it in another
form, hoping that it may receive the appro
bation of Congress. ...
Your committee have been unable to find
in the evidence submitted to Congress by the
President under date of March 6, 1866, in
compliance with the resolutions of January
5 and February 27, 1866, any satisfactory
proof that4therof the insurrectionary States,
except perhaps the State of Tennessee, has
placed itself in a condition to resume its po
litical relations to the Union. The first step
toward that end would necessarily be the es
tablishment of a republican form of govern
ment by the people. It has been before re
marked that the provisional governors ap
pointed by the President in the exercise of
his military authority could do nothing by
virtue of the power thus conferred toward
the establishment of a State government.
Thptr upr nrincf nnrlpr thn Wnprkmarfmanf
and were paid out of its funds. . They were
simply imaging over the chasm between re- I
bellion and restoration. And yet we find
them calling conventions and convening j
Legislatures! Not only this, but we find the j
conventions and Legislatures thus convened ij
acting under executive direction as to the
provisions required to be embodied in their
constitutions and ordinances, as conditions
precedentdto .their reorganization, by the
President. The inducement held out by the
President for compliance with the conditions
imposed was directly in one instance and
presumably thereafter in others, the immedi
ate admission of Senators and Representa
tives to Congress. The character of the con
ventions and Legislatures thus assembled
was not such as to inspire confidence in the
good faith of their members. ' Gov. Perry, of
South Carolina, dissolved the convention as
sembled in that State before the suggestion
liad reached Columbia from Washington
that the rebel war debt should be repudiated,
and gave as his reason that it was a "revolu
tionary body." There is no evidence of the
loyalty or disloyalty ot the members of these
conventions and Legislatures except the fact
of pardons being asked for on their account
Some of these States now claiming represen
tation refused to adopt the conditions im
posed. . No reliable information is found in
these papers as to the constitutional provis
ions ot several ot these states, while in not
one of them is the slightest evidence to show
that these " amended constitutions," as thev
are called, have ever been submitted to the
people for their adoption. . In North-Caroli
na alone an ordinance was passed to that ef
fect, but it does not appear to have been act
ed on. Not one of them, therefore, has been
ratifi'xL Whether with President Johnson
we adopt the theory that the old constitutions
were abrogated and destroyed and the peo
ple " deprived of all government," or wheth
er we adopt the alternative doctrine that
they were only suspended and were revived
by the suppression of the rebellion, the new
provisions must be considered as equally
destitute of validity before adoption by the
people. If the conventions were called for
the sole; purpose of putting the State govern
ments into operation, they had no power
either to adopt a new constitution or to
amend an old one without the consent ofthe
people. Nor could either a convention or a
Legislature change the fundamental law
without power previously conferred. In the
view of your committee it follows, therefore,
that the people of a Siate when the constitu
tion has been thus amended might fed them
selves justified in repudiating altogether all
such unauthorized assumptions of power, and
might be expected to do so at pleasure.
So far as the disposition of the people of
the insurrectionary States and the probabili
ty of their adopting measures conforming to
the changed condition of affairs can be in
ferred from the papers submitted by the
President as the basis of his action, the pros
pects are far from encouraging. It appears
quite clear that the anti-slavery amendments,
both - to the State and federal Constitutions,
were adopted with reluctance by the bodies
which did adopt them ; and in some States
they have been either passed by in -silence or
rejected. The language of all the provisions
and ordinances of the States on the subject
amounts to nothing more than an unwilling
admission of an unwelcome truth. As to the
ordinance of secession, it is in some cases de
clared u null and void," and in others aim
ply " repealed," and in no instance is a refu
tation of this deadly heresy considered wor
thy of a place in the new constitutions
If, as the President assumes, these insur
rectionary States were at the close of the war
wholly without State governments, it would
seem that before being admitted to partici
pate in the direction of public affairs such
governments should be regularly organized.
Long usage has established, and numerous
statutes have pointed out, the mode in which
this should be done " A convention to frame
form of government should be assembled '
nncler competent authority.- Ordinarily this (
authority emanates from Congress, but unJer , !
the peculiar circumstances your committee is ,'
not disposed to criticize the President s ac
tion in assuming the power exercised by aim
in ' this regard. The convention, when as
sembled, should frame a constitution of gov
ernment, which should be submitted to the
people for adoption.. If adopted, a Legisla
ture should be convened to pass the laws
necessary to carry it into effect Whea a
state thus organized claims representation in
Congress,' the election of representatives
should be provided for by law in accord ante
with the laws of Congress regulating repre
sentation, and the proof that the action taken
has been in conformity to law should be sub
mitted to Congress. -:'
In no case have these essential preliminary
steps been taken. The Conventions assem
bled seem to have assumed that the Consti
tution which had been repudiated and over
thrown was still in existence and operative
to constitute the States members of tke
Union, and to have contented themselves,
with such amendments as they were informed
were requisite in order to insure their return
to an immediate participation in the govern
ment ofthe United States. Not waiting to
ascertain whether the people they represent- t
ed would adopt, even the proposed amend-
mcnts, they at once called elections of Rep
resentatives to Congress in nearly all instan
" ces before an Executive bad been chosen to
issue certificates of election under. State laws,
' and such elections as' were held were ordered
by the Conventions., In one instance at least
the writs of election were signed by the
.Provisional Governor." Glaring irregulari
' ties and unwarranted assumptions of power
are manifest in several cases, particularly in
South Carolina, where the Convention, al
though disbanded by the Provisional Gov
ernor, on the ground that it was a revolu
tionary body, assumed to district the State.
It is quite evident from all these facts, and
indeed from the whole mass of testimony
submitted by the President to the Senate,
that in no instance was regard paid to aDy
other consideration than obtaining immedi
ate admission to Congress, under the barren
form of an election, in which no precautions
were taken to secure regularity of proceed
ings or the assent of the people. No Con
stitution has been legally adopted, except,
perhaps, in the State of Tennessee, and such
elections as have been held were without
authority of law. Yonr committee are ac
cordingly forced to the conclusion that the
States referred to have not placed themselves
in a condition to claim representation in
Congress, unless all the rales which have,
since the foundation of the Government,
been deemed essential in such cases should
be disregarded.'
It would undoubtedly be competent for
Congress to waive all formalities to admit
these Confederate States to representation at
once, trusting that time and experience will
act all things right. Whether it would be
advisable to do so, however, must depend
upon other considerations, of which it means
to treat . But it may well be observed that
the inducements to such a step should be of
the very highest character. It seems to your
-committee not unreasonable to require satis
factory evidence that the ordinances and
; constitutional provisions, which the Prcsi
. -dent deems essential in tlie first instance will
"be permanently adhered to by the people of
Tne otates seeKing restoration alter being
admitted to full participation in the gov-
-eminent, and will not be repudiated when
that object shall have been accomplished.
And here the burden of proof rests upon the
late insurgents, who are seeking restoration
to the rights and privileges which they wil
lingly abandoned, and not upon the people
of the United States, who have never under
taken directly or indirectly to deprive them
thereof. It should appear affirmatively that
they are prepared and disposed in good faith
m accept me results, ot the war, to abandon
their hostility to.the government, and to
live in peace and unity with the people of
the loyal States, extending to all classes of
citizens civil rights and privilegesy and con
forming to the republican idea of liberty and
equality. They should exhibit in their acts
something more than unwilling submission
to an unavoidable necessity ; a feeling, if not
cheerful, certainly not offensive and defiant
and they should evince an entire repudiation
of aJl hostility to the General Government
by an acceptance of such just and favorable
conditions as that government shoukt think
the public safety demands. Has this been
done? Let us look at the facts shown by
the evidence taken by the committee.
I Dirtily had ttie war closed before the peo
ple of these insrtrreetionary States eome for-wa-
-d and haughtily claim, as a right, the
pri vilege of participating at once in that
go- eminent which they had for four years
be in fighting to overthrow. Allowed and
em souraged by the Executive to organize
Stf Ae governments, they at once place in
po wer leading rebels, unrepentant and un
pa rdoned, exejuding with contempt those
wi io bad manifested an attachment to the
Ui lion, and preferring, in many instances,
th ose who had rendered themselves the most
obnoxious,. In the face of the law requiring
an. oath which would necessarily exclude all
sich men from Federal office, they elect,
ith very few exceptions, as Senators and
R epresentatives in Congress, men who had
ac tively participated in the rebellion, insult
in gly denouncing the law as unconstitutional.
It is only necessary to instance the election
to the Senate of the late Vice President of
tb.e Confederacy, a man who, against his
o vn declared convictions, had lent all the
w eight of his acknowledged 'ability and of
hi b influence as a most prominent public
m an to the cause of the rebellion, and who,
ui lpardoned rebel as he is, with that oath
st aring him in the face, had the assurance to
la y his credentials on the table of the Senate ;
ol .her rebels of scarcely less note or notoriety
w ere selected from other quarters. Profesa
ii ig no repentance, glorying apparently in
tl ie crime they had committed, avowing
s till, as the uncontradicted testimony of Mr.
( Itephens and many others proves, an adher
c ace to the pernicious doctrine of secession,
f jid declaring that they yielded only to ne-
sessity, they insist with unanimous voice
' jpon their rights as States, and proclaim
" that they will submit to no conditions what
ever preliminary to their resumption of pow
er under that Constitution which they still
claim the right to repudiate. .
Examining the evidence taken by your
committee still further, in connection with
facts too notorious to be disputed, it appears
tlurt the Southern press, with few exceptions,
and those mostly of newspapers recently es
tablished by Northern men, abounds with
weekly and daily abuse of the institutions
and people of the loyal States; defends the
men who led, aud the principles which inci
ted, the rebellion ; denounces and reviles
Southern men who adhered to the Union ;
and strives constantly and unscrupulously,
by every means in its power, to keep alive
the fire of hate and discord between the sec
tions; calling upon the President to violate
his oath of office, overturn the Government
hy force of arms, and drive the representa
tives of the people from-their seats in Con
gress. The national banner is openly insul
ted and the national airs scoffed at, not only
by an ignorant populace, but at public meet
ings; and once, auibng other not able in
stances, at a dinner given in honor of a no
torious rebel, who had violated his oath and
abandoned bis flag. . The same individual
is elected to an important office in the lead
ing city of his State, although an unpardon
ed rebel, and so offensive that the President
refuses to allow him to enter upon his official
- duties. . In another State, the leading gener
al of the rebel armies is openly nominated
for Governor by the Speaker of the House of
Delegates, and the nomination is hailed by
the people with shouts of satisfaction, and
openly endorsed by the press.
Looking still further at the evidence taken
by your committee, it is found to be clearly
shown by witnesses ofthe highest character
and having the best means of observation,
that the Freediaen's Bureau, instituted for
the relief and protection of freedmen and re
fugees, is almost universally opposed by the
mass of the population, and exists in an ef
ficient condition only under military protec
tion, while the Union men of the South are
earnest in its defence, declaring with one
voice that without its protection the colored
people would not be permitted to labor- at
fair prices, and could hardly live in safety.
They also testify that without the protection
of United States troops Union men, whether
of Northern or Southern origin, would be
obliged to abandon their homes. '
The feeling in many portions of the coun
try, toward emancipated slaves. esDesiall
among the educated and ignorant, is one of
imuituicjuu malicious natreo. ITiis deep
seated prejudice against color is assiduously
cultivated by the public journals, and leads
to acts of CrueltY. OODreaaion. nnrl mnAar
which the local authorities are at no pains to
prevent or punish. There is no general dis
position to place the colored race, constltut
.g at least twM&fths of the population, upon
terms even of civil equality. While mn
instances may be found where large plant
and men of the better class accept the git,.
tion and honestly strive to bring about
better order of things by employing the freed
men at fair wages, and treating them kindlv
the general feeling and disposition amonli
all classes are yet totally averse to the toler-r
toon of any class of people friendly to the
Union, be they white, or black ; and this
aversion is not unfrequently manifested in an
insultiug and offensive manner. ;
The witnesses examined as to the willins
nessof the people of the South to contribute
under existing laws, to the payment of the
national debt, prove that the taxes levied bv
the United States will be paid only oit com
pulsion and with great reluctance, while there
prevailed to a great extent an expectation
that compensation will be made for slave,
emancipated and property destroyed durin
the war. The testimony on this point coniw
from officers of the Union army, officers of
the late rebel army, Union men of the South
ern States, and avowed secessionists, almost
all of whom state that, in their opinion, the
people ofthe rebellious States would, if t lay
should see a prospect of success, repudiate
the national debt .
While there is scarcely any hope or desire
among leading men to renew the attempt at
secession at any future time, there is stilt c.
cording to witnesses, including A. II. Ste
phens, who may be regarded as good au
thority on that point, a gcnerally-prevailinn-opinion
which defends the legal riht of
secession, and upholds the doctrine that the
first . allegiance of the people is due to the
States, and not the United States. This be
lief evidently prevails among leadinr aiKi
prominent men as well as among the masses
everywhere, except in some of the northern
counties of Alabama and the eastern counties
of Tennessee.
The evidence of an intense hostility to the
Federal Union, and an equally intense love of
the late Confederacy nurtured by the war is
decisive. While it appears that nearly all arc
willing to submit, at least for the time hcinr
to Federal authority, it is equally clear thSt
the ruling motive is a desire to obtain the
advantages which will be derived from a
representation in Congress. Officers of the
Union army on duty and Northern men who
go South to engage in business are generally
detested and proscribed. Southern men who
adhered to the Union see bitterly hated and
relentlessly persecuted. In some localities
prosecutions have been instituted in State
courts against Union officers for acts done in
the line of official duty, and similar prosecu
tions are threatened elsewhere as soon as the
United States troops are removed. All such
demonstrations show a state of feeling against
which it is unmistakably necessary to guard.
The testimony is conclusive that after the
collapse of the Confederacy the feeling ofthe
people of the rebellions States was that of
abject submission. Having appealed to the
tribunal of arms, they had no hope, except
by the magnanimity of their conquerors, their
lives and possibly their property might be
preserved. Unfortunately the general issue
of pardons to persons who had been promin
ent in the rebellion, and the feeling of kind
ness and conciliation manifested by the
Executive, and very generally indicated,
through the Northern press, had the effect to
render whole communities forgetful of tne
crime they had committed, defiant toward
tl Federal Government, and regardless of
their duties as citizens. The conciliatory
measures of the Government do not seem to
have been met even half way. The bitter
ness and - defiance exhibited toward the
United States under such circumstances is
without a parallel in the history of the world.
In return for our kindness we receive only an
insulting denial of our authority. In return
for our kind desire for the resumption of
fraternal relations, we receive only an insolent
assumption of rights and privileges long since
forfeited. The crime we have punished is
paraded as a virtue, and the principles of re
publican government, which we hnve vindi
cated as so terrible a cost are denounced as
unjust and oppressive.
. If we add to this evidence the fact that,
although peace has been declared by the
President, he has not, to this day, deemed it
safe to restore the writ of habeas eorpnt. to
relieve the insurrectionary State of martial
law, nor to withdraw the troops from many
localities, and that the commanding general
deems an increase of the army indispensable
to the preservation of order and the protec
tion of loyal and well-disposed people ill the
South, the proof of a condition of feeling
hostile to the Union and dangerous to too
Government throughout the insurrection
States would seem to be overwhelming. -
With such evidence before them, it is the
opinion of your committee ,
L That the States lately in rebellion were,
at the close of the war, disorganized commu
nities, without civil government, aud with
out constitutions or other forms, by virtuo
of which political relations could legally ex
ist between them and the Federal Govern
ment , r .
II. That Congress cannot be expected to
recognize as valid the election of representa
tives from disorganized communities, which,
from the very nature of the case, were unable
to present their claims to representation un
der those established and recognized rules,
the observance of which has been hitherto
required. . . - .
HL That Congress would not be justified
in admitting such communities to a partici
pation in the government of the country
without first providing such constitutional
or other guarantees as will aid to secure the
civil rights of all citizens of the republic : a
just equality of representation ;. protection
against claims lounaeu in rebellion ana
crimes; a temporary restriction of the right
of suffrage to those who have not actively
participated in the effort to destroy the Union
and overthrow the Government, and the ex
clusion from positions of public trust of at
least a portion of those whose crimes have
proved them to be enemies to the Union and
unworthy of public confidence. -
-Your committee will, perhaps, hardly be
deemed excusable for extending this report
further ; but, inasmuch as immediate and
unconditional representation of the States
lately in rebellion is demanded as a matter
of right and delay, and even hesitation, de
nounced as grossly oppressive and unjust as
well as unwise and impolitic, it may not be
amiss again to call attention to a few undis
puted facts and the principles of public law
applicable thereto, in order that the propriety
of that claim may be fully considered and
well understood.
. The State of , Tennessee occupied a posi
tion distinct from all the other insurrection
ary States, and has been the subject of a
separate report, which yonr committee have
not thought it expedient to disturb. Wheth
er Congress shall see fit to make that State
the subject of separate action or to include
it in the same category with all others, so
far as concerns the imposition of preliminary
conditions, it is not within the province of
this committee either to determine or advise.
To ascertain whether any of the so-called
Confederate States "are entitled to be rep
resented in either bouse of Congress," the es
sential inquiry is whether there is in any one
of them a constituency qualified to be repre
sented in Congress. . The question how far
persons claiming seats in cither house pos
sess the credentials necessary to enable them
to represent a duly qualified constituency i
one for tlie consideration of each house sep
arately, after the preliminary question shall
have been finally determined.
We now propose to restate as briefly a
possible the great facts and principles appli
cable to all the States recentlv in rebellion. -First
The seats of the Senators and Rep
resentatives from the so-called Confederate
States became vacant in the year 18G1, du
ring the second sesMou of the Thirty-Sixth

xml | txt