Franklin Repository: February 20, 1867Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
Speech of Hon. Wm. H. Koontz, of Pennsylvania, on Reconstruction
(Column 5)Summary: A transcript of Representative Koontz's address before Congress on the subject of Reconstruction. In his remarks, Koontz makes clear his belief that the best way to protect the Union is to grant suffrage to all loyal men in the South, black or white.
Full Text of Article:
Delivered in the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., January 19, 1867.
The House having under consideration House bill No. 543, to provide for restoring to the States lately in insurrection their full political rights--
Mr. Koontz said:
Mr. Speaker: I do not propose to examine in detail the bill under discussion, but will occupy a portion of the time allotted me in discussing the general principles involved therein. When the late civil war closed with the overthrow of the military power of the southern confederacy, the first questions that were presented to the consideration of the loyal people of the country were, what penalties shall be imposed upon the nation? and what shall be done to restore civil governments to those communities, and once more bring them into harmonious action with the General Government. For over four years the nation had engaged in a desperate struggle for its life. Ten States had by solemn legislative enactment separated the ties that bound them to the Union, organized a separate government, seized the forts, arsenals, navy yards, mints, custom-houses and other property of the Government, raised large armies and waged one of the fiercest wars known in history, to establish their independence. After an immense expenditure of blood and treasure the whole fabric of treason fell crumbling to the earth, and the great fact established thereby was the ability of the nation to maintain itself against domestic foes.
A stern sense of justice demanded that some punishment should be inflicted upon the guilty criminals who had lighted the fires of civil war, desolated so fair a portion of our fair land, and robed the country in mourning for the precious dead whose lives had been sacrificed through their mad ambition. At the same time a proper regard for the future peace and security of the country required that there should be some conditions imposed upon them before they could again be permitted to participate in the privileges pertaining to the true and loyal people of the country. These things were looked for by the friends of the Government, not through a spirit of hatred and revenge toward the rebels, but because they were consistent with not only the fundamental law of the land, but with that great principle of self-preservation which lies at the foundation of all Governments, and belongs to nations as well as to individuals. The crime of treason is defined in the Constitution as follows:
"Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."--Article 3, section 3.
And the punishment provided therefor is, by act of Congress, 30th April, 1790, as follows:
"If any person owing allegiance to the United States of America shall levy war against them, or shall adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort, within the United States or elsewhere, and shall be thereof convicted, on confession in open court, or on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act of treason whereof he or they shall stand indicted, such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States and shall suffer death."
It requires no argument here to prove that they were guilty of this monstrous crime. That they waged a fierce and relentless war against the United States we have but to look at the numberless widows and orphans, who remind us that three hundred thousand precious lives were lost to resist their attacks upon the Government; and to remember that a national debt of $3,000,000,000, which will tax the energies of our people for generations to come, was contracted to overthrow the work of treason. Manifestly guilty, therefore, of this high crime it would have only been in accordance with the dictates of justice had they suffered its penalty. The principle that there must be punishment for crime pervades both human and divine law, and as they were guilty of the very highest crime known to the law, as well as of all the crimes that follow in the train of civil war, it was but a reasonable expectation on the part of the loyal people that they should expiate their crimes by suffering the penalties of the law. I do not claim, nor do I believe it to be the sense of the people, that these plain provisions of the law should have been enforced upon the great mass who were deluded into the ranks of treason, but I do most sincerely believe it to be the deliberate judgement of the great body of the American people that the guilty leaders ought to have suffered condign punishment. Instead, however, of carrying out his previous threats that "traitors must be punished," the accidental occupant of the White House showers upon them executive clemency, and instead of "treason being made odious" it basks in the smiles of presidential favor. Think of Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the rebel confederacy, with the pardon of Andrew Johnson in one hand and a commission from the State of Georgia in the other, waiting for "my policy" to be carried out to take his seat as a Senator in the Senate of the United States, and you have a striking illustration of the way in which the highest crime against the nation has been dealt with. Treason vanquished upon the battle-field has succeeded through the treachery of Andrew Johnson in escaping the blows of justice. It remains for the Congress of the United States to see to it that the people are not robbed of the fruits of the great victory won by the sword, and that before these communities can be restored to their former position they must comply with such condition as may be deemed necessary for the future peace of the country.
In a Government where there is the widest latitude given to the expression of individual opinion, and where opinion is formed into law through the instrumentality of the ballot-box, it is but natural that there should be great diversity of sentiment upon a question so important as that of deciding upon the true relation of those States to the Government which they had attempted to destroy and whose authority they were compelled to acknowledge after a bloody and destructive war. The public sentiment of the country is divided upon this question. Upon the one side are the whole of the people lately in rebellion, that entire class of people in the North who, if they did not sympathize with rebellion, constantly opposed every measure for its overthrow, together with a few renegade Unionists, among whom is the President of the United States. On the other side are the truly loyal men of the South, both white and black, and that great and patriotic body of people in the North who were true to the Government through its long and trying struggle with red-handed treason. The sentiments of the people began to be developed with the events immediately following the overthrow of the rebellion, and have continued to be moulded by successive events until now, when they have assumed a decided furor, and are expressed either in advocacy of, or bitter hostility to, what is known as the President's policy of reconstruction.
When Andrew Johnson was elevated to the Presidency through the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Thirty-Eighth Congress had expired by constitutional limitation. Without summoning together the legislative branch of the Government he at once began the work of reconstruction. He appointed provisional governors for these States, directed the calling of conventions in them for the purpose of starting the machinery of State government, demanded from them compliance with certain conditions which he imposed, and then pronounced them in a fit condition to be admitted into the Union, provided they sent loyal representatives to Congress. Before discussing the policy of the President relative to the admission of the representatives from the States lately in rebellion, permit me to say, sir, that, in my judgement, since the formation of this Government there never was a more glaring and notorious usurpation of power than that committed by Andrew Johnson in his attempt to direct the work of reconstruction. The most important question that ever came before the American people for consideration and action was that of the adjustment of the difficulties growing out of the war. The people in ten States had for four years been in rebellion against the constituted authorities of the country, a vast amount of blood and treasure was expended on both sides, the passions and prejudices of the people were excited to a degree common only to such great conflicts; in short, the throes of one of the mightiest revolutions ever enacted in the great drama of human life had developed such a condition of public affairs as required the combined efforts and the collective skill and wisdom of all the departments of the Government.
And yet in the midst of this condition of things Andrew Johnson--one man, and a rash, obstinate, impulsive man at that, in a Government where the people rule through their representatives, and under a Constitution which expressly defines the powers and limits the duties of the Chief Magistrate, whose duty it is to execute the laws, and who has no part in making them except to make suggestions to Congress from time to time and to interpose his veto in such matters as he may see proper--assumed the direction and control of the most momentous questions that may ever occur in the life of this nation. His work of restoration was therefore a work of usurpation, wholly unwarranted and unauthorized by the Constitution. But his plan for the readmission of the rebel States was as wrong as his assumption of jurisdiction over the question was illegal and unconstitutional. What was it, and what is it still? It is briefly this, that the act of secession on the part of those States being illegal, and the rebellion having been put down, the people in those States occupy the same position they did before the war, and are at once entitled to immediate representation in the Congress of the United States. And in vindication of this position we are triumphantly asked by the President and his supporters, Did you not say that a State cannot secede; that you were only fighting to preserve the Union? And now, having succeeded in overthrowing the rebellion, you are not willing to have the Union, but insist on its disruption. True, we did say and still believe that a State cannot secede, and that we were contending solely for the preservation of the Union, and thus far we shall have no difference of opinion with you; but as to the question whether States that have rebelled, set up a foreign government, tried to destroy the old Government, waged a wicked war, and been vanquished after a long and bloody struggle, are entitled to stand precisely where they did before the war, and participate in the Government without any limitation or restriction imposed upon them, we do differ most widely.
It is contended by the supporters of the President's policy that this is a government of States, and that as no State has a right to secede that it cannot after an unsuccessful war against the General Government be prohibited from exercising the rights of a State in the Union. And further, that as ours is a representative form of government, we are doing violence to our institutions by preventing any part of the people from being represented in the Government. These I believe are the main arguments relied upon by them for the correctness of their position. Let us examine them and see how far they have been true to these principles. In the first place, the argument that this is a Government of States, and that the Union was only a confederacy of States subject to be broken at the will of any State, was the one used by the secessionists for twenty-five years for the purpose of destroying the Union. They held that the State was sovereign, that the Union was only a temporary convenience, and that the State might dissolve it at pleasure, and is it not singular that now, having tried secession and failed, they endeavored to avail themselves of the very opposite doctrine? I hold that this doctrine is incorrect in principle and utterly pernicious and destructive to the very ends of government if carried out. It is not true that this is simply a Government of States. That was the basis upon which the old Union was formed and held together under the Articles of Confederation, but the system was found to be so defective that it was soon done away with. The States, acting upon the principle of their independence, disregarded the power of the General Government, and the latter was soon without power or authority among the States and without respect among other nations. The very weakness of the General Government was what occasioned the subsequent formation of the Federal Government under which we live. And, sir, while it is true that the Constitution of the United States is the fundamental chart by which we are to be governed, I contend that our fathers did more than to limit by express words what the Government could or could not do. When they created the Government of the United States they created a nation from which the very necessities of its creation and existence was entitled to powers and rights as such which are not defined in the Constitution. Among these is the right to do all things necessary for its preservation as such.
Had we not acted upon this principle we would have been destroyed at the very outset of the war, for we were then told that there was no power and authority under the Constitution to coerce a State. Is it not singular that this doctrine of the power of the States and the want of power in the Constitution to coerce them was used both to destroy and to create? By this sophistry they would have permitted the States to destroy the Union without molestation, because they told us there was no power in the Constitution to coerce them, and then when the States have been vanquished after a severe struggle, we are told that they still maintain their status under the Constitution, and charge us with being disunionists because we do not at once admit them. To show not only the utter absurdity but absolute danger there is in this wicked doctrine of State rights, it is necessary to inquire what constitutes a State and wherein is the power for evil. A State is composed of three things: first, a given area of territory; second, a certain number of people; and third, local municipal law. It is manifest that the territory can do no harm, except in so far as it may serve by natural defenses to aid the people in their work of rebellion. The local municipal law is the creature of the people, and can only be made an instrument of danger to the Government provided the people so will it. It follows, then, that of these three necessary elements that form a State, the only danger to be apprehended by the Government is from the people that constitute the State.
But we are told that no matter what the mind and heart of the people may be, no matter how hostile they are, and how ready they may be to destroy the General Government, and how much they may have done to destroy it, through the instrumentality of these lifeless corporations called the States, they are entitled to hold all the rights and privileges of the peaceable and loyal citizens of the Government. The whole people of a State may rebel, the people of ten States may rebel, and you have no power under the Constitution of the United States to coerce them because these indestructible things called the States dare not be interfered with. The people of those States after a long and desolating war may be overcome, and they are immediately invested with all the rights of American citizens by the aid of these immutable corporations called the States. Sir, that is the doctrine of national ruin, of national death. The people indignantly repudiated that doctrine at the beginning of the war; they repudiated it all through the war; and since the war is over they have repudiated it by one of the most sublime national verdicts ever recorded. And although a plan for the restoration of those States was agreed upon in the last session of this Congress by the representatives of the people, and was, together with the policy of the President, submitted to the people for their action in the late campaign, I look upon the decision of the people rather as a condemnation of the President's policy than an expression of opinion in favor of the plan proposed by Congress as the only way to settle our national difficulties.
We have, therefore, this all-important question before us, and are charged with the responsibility of deciding it enlightened and guided, as we must be, by the overwhelming voice of those who sent us here. The policy of the President having been completely repudiated by the people who are compelled to look for some other mode of settlement that will be consistent with the wishes of the great body of the American people, and in harmony with those great principles of equal and exact justice that lie at the foundation of our Government. And I do not propose, sir, to embarrass myself with the consideration of the nice and subtle distinctions that are now being made in regard to whether those communities are still States, or whether, having taken up the sword and appealed to arms and been vanquished, they are reduced to the condition of Territories. For whether they are States or Territories, I maintain that the jurisdiction of the loyal States is full, ample, and complete over the question of their admission into the Union. If the doctrine as laid down by Vattel be correct, that--
"A civil war breaks the bands of society and government, or at least suspends their force and effect, it produces in the nation two independent parties, who consider each other as enemies and acknowledge no common judge. Those two parties, therefore, must necessarily be considered as thenceforward constituting, at least for a time, two separate bodies, two distinct societies. Though one of these parties may have been to blame, in breaking the unity of the State and resisting the lawful authority, they are not the less divided in fact. Besides, who shall judge them? Who shall pronounce on which side the right or wrong lies? On earth they have no common superior. They stand, therefore, precisely in the same predicament as two nations who engage in a contest, and, being unable to come to an agreement, have recourse to arms."--Vattell's Law of Nations, p. 425.
Then there can be no doubt as to our power over the question. On the other hand, if that rule does not apply, then I hold that the people of these States, having overthrown their institutions and placed them in an attitude of hostility to the Government, we as the conquering party have the right under that clause of the Constitution which requires that each State shall be guaranteed a republican form of government, to examine their forms of government and determine whether they are in conformity to the Constitution. If we do not possess this right, then all we did during the war was wrong, and the rebel States would have had the right to be represented in Congress during the war, embarrassing us by their votes in council as well as their guns in the field. But President Johnson (if indeed a person who has so completely swung around the circle of opinion that he may be quoted upon either side is entitled to be quoted at all as authority,) has distinctly recognized this right when he demanded from them compliance with certain conditions, before even he would recognize their right to admission, and provided they sent loyal representatives. I may inquire here by what authority he imposes the last condition? If they are entitled as States to representation what power has he to limit their selection to loyal representatives? Does not the fact that he does so limit them upset his whole doctrine of restoration? Whether as States or Territories, then, as we have the power to direct upon what terms they shall be admitted, it remains to be determined what is the safe way out of the difficulties that now surround us.
In view of the great struggle that the nation has passed through two things seem to be necessary: first, to enact such legislation as will best provide against like difficulties in the future; and second, to protect in every possible way the people in the South who have been true to the Union, without regard to their race or color. Had the people in those States signified their willingness to accept the amendments to the Constitution by this Congress, we would have been bound in good faith to accept them, but having rejected them it now becomes our duty to enact such further legislation as will thoroughly protect all classes of people. The amendments are necessary as part of the work of reconstruction, declaring as they do who are citizens of the United States, providing against an undue exercise of political power on the part of any State by prohibiting it from including in the basis of representation any class of people who may be denied the right of suffrage, excluding certain rebels from the right to hold office, and declaring the national debt binding upon the nation, while forever prohibiting the payment of any portion of the debt contracted by the rebels. These provisions are all wise and necessary; and as they have been so fully discussed and sanctioned by the great body of the American people I will not dwell upon them here. But in addition to them one thing more is needed, and that is to confer the elective franchise upon all loyal men in those States as provided for in the fourth section of the bill.
I believe that this should be done both as a matter of right and expediency. In declaring it to be a matter of right I am aware that I come in conflict with that class of people who believe that this Government was erected expressly for the benefit of the white man. Sir, there never was a more unsound, pernicious doctrine proclaimed than that this is a white man's Government. When the fathers of the Revolution proclaimed the great principles enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, that all men were created free, that they were entitled to certain inalienable rights, among which were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that "Government derive their just powers from the consent of the governed," they spoke the voice of humanity, asserting its rights in bold and manly terms after centuries of cruelty, oppression and misgovernment. Their platform was no narrow, circumscribed one, but broad enough to cover all creeds, all classes and conditions of men, and whether thoroughly understood by them and acted up to by us in this generation or not, it will ever continue to inspire fresh hope in the heart of mankind, and will serve as the shibboleth of the party of progress in its conflicts with error, until every wrong done to humanity shall be effaced, and the whole family of man be governed by the same broad and generous principles of justice, equality and fraternity.
But if we are to be governed in our opinions by the action of our fathers, then we should extend the ballot to the freedmen; for I believe it to be a fact that after the formation of the Government, in every State except one the ballot was given to all free men of color, thus showing that they recognized the right of the colored man to the elective franchise. I hold, however, that in a Government where the people rule, every man who has a stake in the Government should have the ballot for his own protection. His property is liable to taxation for the purpose of defraying the expenses of the Government, his personal services are demanded by the Government in time of war; he is affected by the public legislation of the country in his person and property, then why should he be prohibited from having a voice in the selection of his rulers? The great cry now raised by the advocates for the immediate admission of the rebel representatives is, that we are imposing taxation upon them without representation, but they are not willing to apply this principle to the four million blacks who will now have to bear their share of the burden of the Government. On the contrary, they would have representation without taxation, for they seem exceedingly anxious to represent these same four million blacks whose taxes they do not pay. I claim it further as a right to the black man because he has been true to the Government in her late struggle with treason, while his master, with all the advantages of education, intellectual culture, the right of the ballot, and unlimited political power in a country that had known him only to bestow benefactions upon him, proved a traitor, the poor, untutored, illiterate slave, proved true to the country in which he apparently had little to expect, its highest judicial tribunal having declared that he had no rights in the Government which a white man was bound to respect.
But the black man is entitled to the ballot as a matter of protection against the very men who for four years have been in arms to destroy the Government. While you may disfranchise leading traitors, the great body of them will still be permitted to exercise the elective franchise, and as time rolls on and the passions and feelings of this generation are tempered by lapse of time they, too, may be restored to that right. We have seen enough to satisfy even the most skeptical that there exists in the minds of the rebels a deep-seated hatred against the colored race because they would not identify themselves with the cause of their masters. They have shown it in the legislation enacted since the overthrow of the rebellion, by which they have introduced slavery in everything except the name. Sir, it is a solemn, imperative duty that this nation owes to its colored people to protect them against their and the country's foes. It would be a burning, lasting disgrace to the nation were it to hand them over to their enemies. I know of no way in which this protection can be better given than by extending to them the elective franchise. Civil rights bills, Freedman's Bureau bills, and all kindred measures will fail so long as they can be evaded by local legislation; but place that ballot in the hands of the black man and you give him that which insures him respect as well as protection. You send him forth armed with the panoply of the American citizen, wielding that most powerful of all weapons, the ballot--
Like snow-flakes fall upon the sod,
Yet executes a freeman's will
As lightning does the will of God."
Sir, thus much for the right involved in the question of extending the ballot to freedmen. A few suggestions as to the expediency of it and I am done. I may suggest that in that vast population so lately in armed hostility to the Union it could scarcely be expected that in heart and mind they could for many years to come be friendly to the Government which they have just tried to destroy. As a counterpoise to this hostile element introduced into the Government, will be the infusion into it of the steady patriotism and blind faith of the black population, balancing so much loyalty against so much disloyalty. The bestowal of the elective franchise to the freedman would have a tendency to elevate him and raise him above the condition that his recent release from slavery has left him in. And should we not rather strive to elevate than depress so large a number of people, constituting, as they do, nearly one-seventh of the entire population of the country? Will not the nation be more benefitted by the moral, religious, and political improvement of this large class of people than by permitting them to remain in a state of ignorance and helplessness? And what can be better calculated to infuse hope into the mind, elevate the understanding, and enlighten the conscience of the freedmen, than to invest him with all the rights, duties, and responsibilities of an American citizen? I am not willing to believe, sir, that the elevation of this poor, unfortunate race of people will tend to degrade the white race, but am rather inclined to think that as they rise in the scale of intelligence so will the white race advance to a greater degree of improvement.
But it is expedient in another point of view, and that is as a final and complete settlement of the negro question. Since the formation of the Government the condition of the negro has been the vexed question in our politics. The war worked his release from bondage, and with it came the question of his right to citizenship and the ballot. It has been truly said that unsettled questions leave no repose, and especially is this the case in a Government where all questions must stand the test of public discussion. And with the negro asserting his rights, with the mighty intellectual power in the North arrayed upon his side, and with public sentiment fast drifting in that direction, its settlement cannot long be deferred. Sir, confer this right, and not only does the agitation of the question cease, but you approximate nearer to the great fundamental principles upon which our Government rests; the great disturbing element is removed from our body-politic and our institutions will be in harmony with the ideas and principles upon which they were founded. I have no fears in extending this privilege to the black man. I would infinitely rather trust the ballot to the black man who shouldered a musket to defend his Government than to the white traitor who tried to destroy it. The enfranchisement of black loyalists and disfranchisement of certain rebels, or rather suffrage upon a loyal basis, will be the surest protection to the loyal whites of the South. Unless they are re-enforced by the addition of the loyal black element it is perfectly manifest that they will be subjected to rebel rules. In fact, that whole section is almost as completely dominated over by rebel authority as when Lee's battalions held undisputed sway over it. There to have been loyal to the Government is to be subjected to the scorn and hatred of the rebels, and in many sections life itself is endangered by reason of their intense hatred against Unionists.
The voice of the loyal whites of the South, who have suffered every conceivable wrong on account of their fidelity to the Union, comes to us demanding in thunder tones that we shall so reconstruct this Government that its friends, and not its enemies, shall rule. We would be untrue to them, untrue to the martyred dead, untrue to ourselves and to posterity, if we disregard their admonitions. Sir, the great duty rests upon us to finish the work which was not completed by warfare. The shackles of four million of slaves were melted by the fierce fires of civil war; but the animus in slavery, its passions and prejudices, yet remain. It is our duty so to legislate as to remove the last relic of a barbarism that would have suited the dark ages, and to conform our institutions to the advanced condition to which we have been brought by the mighty revolution just ended. And when this shall have been done the great Republic, freed from the dark stain of human slavery, will start upon her mission to promulgate, by precept and example, the immutable and eternal truth of the equality of man, and before whose resistless march kingdoms and empires, principalities and powers, and all the systems built upon caste and creed for the oppression of man, will be swept from the face of the earth, and be known no more forever.
The Rebellious States
(Column 1)Summary: In the wake of the South's refusal to adopt the proposed amendments to be readmitted to the union, Congress has passed two new bills to deal with the "existing evils" present in the region, report the editors. The first "obliterates at one blow the sham government organized by traitors" in Louisiana, and "provides for the creation of a loyal government, by the loyal people ... without regard to color or caste--disfranchising all who have actively participated in the rebellion." The second, the Military Reconstruction Bill proposed by Thad Stevens, places the "rebellious states under martial law."
Full Text of Article:Political Compromises
The action of Congress last week indicates something like a settled purpose touching the rebellious States. The proposed amendments to the constitution were virtually submitted to the Southern people by the last session, and had they been promptly adopted, and their laws made to conform thereto in good faith, their admission to representation would inevitably have followed, and negro suffrage would have fallen in the adjustment. But, with terms so generous presented, and an apostate Executive ready to shield the rebels from any and every penalty for their crime, they contemptuously rejected the amendments, and spurned the magnanimous proffer of peace and restoration.
Thus admonished by the obstinacy of treason, the present session was compelled to begin the work of restoration anew. The Memphis, New Orleans and other appalling butcheries, together with the concurrent testimony of Union men everywhere in the South, and the Generals in command there, awakened the nation to the relentless savagery of traitors against all who had not shared their treason, and the chief labor of the present session has been to devise proper measures to restore government, law and safety in the insurgent States. At last the desired point appears to be well nigh reached, and the persistent treachery of the leading rebels seems again, as often in the past, to be ready to give the nation a higher measure of the fruition of Freedom's triumph.
Two bills have passed the popular branch of Congress within the last few days, both of which strike at the very vitals of treason's power. Mr. Elliot's bill for the government of Louisiana was the result of the careful investigation into the atrocious massacre of Union men, by the select committee of which Mr. Eliot was chairman. It obliterates at one blow the sham government organized by traitors to serve the purposes of treason in that State, and provides for the creation of a loyal government, by the loyal people only of Louisiana, without regard to color or caste--disfranchising all who have actively participated in rebellion. This measure is deemed necessary to give such a government as will afford security to the persons and property of all classes, and it brings home to unrepentant traitors the wholesome lesson that henceforth each new step in the work of reconstruction necessitated by their hostility to the government, will be marked by more stringent discriminations in favor of loyalty and against the disloyal. The bill applies only to Louisiana, but, if it becomes necessary, it will hereafter be made applicable to all the rebellious States. It is still pending in the Senate, but its final passage, either by this Congress, or by the next in early March, seems to be fully assured.
Mr. Stevens achieved another of his great parliamentary triumphs last week by the passage of his Military Reconstruction bill. Practically the effect of the bill is to place the rebellious States under martial law--at least the civil authority is subordinated to the military whenever the civil powers fail to administer justice; and it teaches to all that in the work of restoration there shall be submission to the loyal judgement of the nation. At the time of this writing we are not advised of the fate of the bill in the Senate; but enough is known to warrant the belief that the bill will ultimately become a law without material modification. Both these bills may fail this Congress, which expires on the 4th of March; but the 40th Congress will meet on the 5th of March, and they will doubtless be re-enacted and passed finally over the veto.
Neither of the bills refused to look directly to Reconstruction. They are measures framed to meet existing evils, but they fix no boundaries to the subjection of the rebellious States to Congressional rule. That this is so because the South has resisted every proposed measure for restoration, is manifestly true; but there is a growing sentiment among the Republican members that these measures should definitely proclaim the terms on which rebellious States can be restored. To attain this end, Mr. Blaine, of Maine, proposed an amendment to Mr. Steven's bill, a section providing that when the proposed amendments to the constitution shall be ratified by the necessary number of States, the rebel States may claim admission and representation by adopting the amendments, making their constitutions and laws, by the vote of the people, conform faithfully thereto, extend suffrage to all male citizens of age, rebels and negroes, and present representatives who can take the oath,--Congress to determine upon the republican character of such constitutions. Mr. Stevens earnestly and successfully resisted this amendment, and sent his bill to the Senate without it; but the discussion in the Senate, and the close vote in the House, indicate clearly that the tendency in Congress is to present some final proposition to the South, upon the acceptance of which the work of reconstruction shall be complete.
We do not understand whether Mr. Stevens resisted the Blaine amendment because he is opposed to its provisions, or whether he feared it might peril his bill. We doubt not that he shares the earnest desire of the whole country for a prompt settlement of the grave issues involved in restoration. The people, with one accord, desire finality--not as in other days when finality meant concession to wrong, but finality in harmony with the logical results of the war, securing to all impartial rights and maintaining universal justice. We do not see wherein the Blaine amendment is essentially defective. True it confers almost universal suffrage upon rebels along with all freedmen; but will any successful adjustment measure do less? It is explicit in its demand for positive obedience and conformity to the principles of the amendments, and reserves to Congress the right to judge of the republican character of the organic and statute laws of the States. Upon the whole we regard it with favor, and would have rejoiced at its adoption. There may be reasons why it should not be accepted of which we are not advised; but if it is seriously defective, we entreat Congress to propose something better that will define the conditions upon which there may be restoration.
Congress may dispute as it likes as to the legal status of the rebellious States, but the people care little for such abstractions. They have been treated as out of the Union, and as wanting in every attribute of sovereignty, by every branch of the government--Executive, including both Lincoln and Johnson, legislative, judicial and military, and it is too late to wrangle over the legal signification of terms in restoring them. They are out in fact--have been so for six years, and the people want them in as soon as it can be done on the basis of perpetual peace and Union.
(Column 2)Summary: Despite President Johnson's recent entreaties to Republicans to reach a compromise on Reconstruction, the editors question his motives, noting that the "Republican party can have no faith nor approbation for the man who has so wantonly and wickedly betrayed it."
Full Text of Article:The Pardoning Power
We are regaled almost daily with reports from Washington of a compromise between prominent Republicans and the President, and at times the rumor comes with a minuteness of detail that wears a most plausible aspect.
We do not doubt that Andrew Johnson would be glad to make a compromise with Congress. Having no hope for the success of his own policy, being powerless to accomplish anything for the faithless men with whom he cast his lot, and smarting under the decisive condemnation of the people, why should he not compromise? He has but one element of power, and he constantly flaunts it in the faces of Congressmen who have friends they would be glad to serve. Principles he has none that are not at war with every requisite of loyalty; but he has offices and plunder, and with these he is ever ready to drag any weak, straggling Congressman into his fatal favor. We notice that in exceptional instances he has appointed tried and faithful Republicans to office; but did he do so from choice?--or did he do so for a consideration in the shape of promised support in his renewed effort to debauch Congress?
Congress and the people would both rejoice, we doubt not, to meet the President on any ground that would not peril anew the national life and all the deeply crimsoned attributes of Freedom and Justice; but it is not such a compromise that Andrew Johnson desires. He aims to get all for treason that it desires, and failing in that, he next aims to get all he can for it. He can consent to no compromise that does not make loyalty a reproach in the rebellious States, and a Congress just instructed amidst the highest surges of the President's perfidy cannot, dare not, turn from the path of right to make terms with traitors. It is possible Congress could proffer terms the rebellious States might accept, but however magnanimous the basis of reconstruction may be made, let it come as the mature judgement of Congress and with the inexorable decree that it shall prevail. We insist that it is a question, and solely a question for the loyal people to adjust through their representatives, and he who counsels with treason, but postpones or embarrasses restoration.
Politically the Republican party can have no faith nor approbation for the man who has so wantonly and wickedly betrayed it. Doubtless many good men would be glad to have his patronage, and we should be glad to aid them in attaining them; but until they can enjoy it with honor, and without the sacrifice of principle, every true Republican will spurn his power and his bribe. If he shall propose such men for important positions without conditions amounting to an imitation of his own treachery, no one could complain of their acceptance; but so long as his admirers are the leading copperheads of the North and the most defiant rebels of the South, no Republican can hope to enjoy his patronage without immediate or ultimate disgrace.
While, upon the surface, it would seem that reconstruction is the purpose of those who are endeavoring to conciliate the President, we cannot doubt that his plunder is, in most cases at least, the mainspring of action, and those who are thus desiring to lead the Republican party into the outer circles of Johnsonism, cannot too soon learn that their task is a hopeless one. The Republican party has shown that it can survive Andrew Johnson's apostasy; that it can maintain its ascendency in defiance of his patronage, and that it can live in triumph when he shall have passed away; but it cannot survive complicity, in any degree, with his betrayal of his great trust, at any price. There are, we fear, a few hungry Congressmen who need to learn this lesson!
(Column 2)Summary: The editors offer a plan to streamline the pardon-granting process and make it more equitable in its application. To accomplish this, they call for the creation of a bureau of pardon.[No Title]
(Column 1)Summary: The article reports that Democratic journals "favorable to a constitutional convention" have protested the manner in which the delegates are to be selected, a sentiment shared by the editors at the Repository. In lieu of the present system, the editors advocate a method similar to one in place in New York, whereby thirty men from the legislature would be elected from a general ticket, fifteen from each party so as to have "the ablest men of each party in the body."[No Title]
(Column 3)Summary: The article reports that an investigation into "frauds practiced upon the government in the collection of the internal revenue" has discovered that four-fifths of the whiskey manufactured last year went untaxed. To halt this criminal activity, a new system of inspection of distilleries is sorely needed.[No Title]
(Column 3)Summary: In reaction to the chorus of complaints coming from Democratic journals across the state over the enactment of legislation punishing railroad companies "for refusing to carry decent colored persons," the piece notes that blacks have always "been entitled to seats in any public conveyance." The only exception is in Philadelphia, thus the law is specifically targeted at the operators there.Life Insurance
(Column 6)Summary: In the letter, Reed lays out the benefits of insurance and contradicts the argument put forth by "Bobtail," a critic of the industry.
Trailer: W. G. Reed, Agent American Life Insurance Co. of Phil.[No Title]
(Column 8)Summary: Contains a copy of Blaine's amendment to the Military Reconstruction Bill, which mandates universal male suffrage, without regard to "race, color, or previous condition of servitude, except such as may be disfranchised for participating in the late rebellion."
Editorial Comment: "The following is the Blaine amendment proposed to Mr. Stevens' military bill for the rebellious states:"
Full Text of Article:
THE following is the Blaine amendment proposed to Mr. Stevens' military bill for the rebellious States:
That when the Constitutional Amendment, proposed as article fourteen by the Thirty-ninth Congress, shall have become a part of the Constitution of the United States, and when any of the late so-called Confederate States shall have ratified the same, and conformed its Constitution and laws thereto in all respects, and when it shall have provided by its Constitution that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed equally and impartially by all male citizens of the United States twenty-one years old and upward, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude, except such as may be disfranchised for participating in the late rebellion, and when said Constitution shall have been submitted to the voters of said State, as thus defined, for ratification or rejection, and when the Constitution, if ratified by the popular vote, shall have been submitted to Congress for examination and approval, said State shall, if its Constitution be approved by Congress, be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and Senators and Representatives shall be admitted therefrom on their taking the oath prescribed by law, and then and thereafter the preceding sections of this bill shall be inoperative in said State.
(Column 1)Summary: Notes the return of Judge C. Eyster from Colorado, where he has spent the past six months performing judicial services. Eyster has regaled his friends and family with his tales from Colorado, which he describes as "Heaven's last best gift to man." He is expected to return there in April.Local Items--The Fair
(Names in announcement: Judge C. Eyster)
(Column 1)Summary: The Sons of Temperance and Good Templars opened its fair in the Repository Hall last night with "a large and splendid display of fancy and useful articles." The fair will run until Friday evening.Local Items--Dissolution and Removal
(Column 1)Summary: The article announces the dissolution of the dry goods firm Eckel, Gilbert & Co. due to the withdrawal of Mr. Eckel. The remaining partners, Calvin Gilbert and D. H. Seibert, will continue with the business under the name Gilbert & Siebert. The new firm will be located in the Reisher's Building.Local Items--Recovery of Stolen Mules
(Names in announcement: Calvin Gilbert, D. H. Seibert, Eckel)
(Column 1)Summary: Four mules that had been stolen from a man in Williamsport, Md., were recovered in Greencastle last week. The thief drove the animals to Franklin then handed them to an accomplice, who drove them to Newville and offered them for sale. The crime was thwarted by the arrival of the mule's owner who tracked the animals down. The accomplice was arrested and placed in jail in Hagerstown.Local Items--A Good Investment
(Column 1)Summary: Informs readers that $5,000 worth of Repository Bonds will be offered for sale at a rate of 7 percent.Local Items--Death of a Minister
(Column 1)Summary: Rev. E. R. Veitch, pastor of the M. E. Church in Chambersburg in 1848-49, died in Newtown, Va., on February 10th. At the time of his death, Veitch was Presiding Elder of the Winchester District.Local Items--Arrested for Stealing
(Names in announcement: Rev. E. R. Veitch)
(Column 1)Summary: Two men, Polk Wilson and Book Demus, were arrested last week and sent to Ft. Doebler for stealing a coat from the dry goods store A. J. & H. M. White.Local Items--Political
(Names in announcement: Polk Wilson, Book Demus)
(Column 1)Summary: Announces that a Republican meeting will be held in Scotland on March 2nd for the purpose of nominating a ticket for the spring election.Married
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 5th, George B. Snively and Mary E. Kennedy were married by Rev. J. W. Wightman.Married
(Names in announcement: George B. Snively, Mary E. Kennedy, Rev. J. W. Wightman)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 12th, Jacob V. Sommers, of Middleton Valley, Maryland, and Christianna Landis were married by Rev. Dr. Schneck.Married
(Names in announcement: Jacob V. Sommers, Christianna Landis, Rev. Dr. Schneck)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 14th, Benjamin Metz and Annie Bitner were married by Rev. Dr. Schneck.Married
(Names in announcement: Benjamin Metz, Annie Bitner, Rev. Dr. Schneck)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 7th, Cornelius S. Mathias, of York county, and Mary C. Peterman were married by Rev. T. Crider.Married
(Names in announcement: Cornelius S. Mathias, Mary C. Peterman, Rev. T. Crider)
(Column 2)Summary: On Jan. 31st, John E. Hendricks and Elizabeth Lutz were married by Rev. J. Keller Miller.Married
(Names in announcement: John E. Hendricks, Elizabeth Lutz, Rev. J. Keller Miller)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 5th, Jonas Royer, of Centre county, Pa., and Mary Bitner, daughter of Jacob Bitner, were married by Rev. J. Keller Miller.Married
(Names in announcement: Jonas Royer, Mary Bitner, Jacob Bitner, Rev. J. Keller Miller)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 7th, Leander M. Snyder and Catharine Unger were married by Rev. J. Keller Miller.Married
(Names in announcement: Leander M. Snyder, Catharine Unger, Rev. J. Keller Miller)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 14th, Joseph Miller and Mary Elizabeth Coble were married by Rev. J. Keller Miller.Died
(Names in announcement: Joseph Miller, Mary Elizabeth Coble, Rev. J. Keller Miller)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 21st, Rachael, widow of the late John C. Reed, of Chambersburg, died at her son-in-law's residence in Baltimore. She was 74 years old.Died
(Names in announcement: Rachael Reed, John C. Reed, Hunter)
(Column 2)Summary: On Jan. 31st, Mary M., wife of Jacob Benedict, died near Bridgeport. She was 56 years old.Died
(Names in announcement: Jacob Benedict, Mary M. Benedict)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 10th, Lydia Martha, second daughter of Christian Wingert, died. She was 22 years old.Died
(Names in announcement: Martha Lydia Wingert, Christian Wingert)
(Column 2)Summary: On Feb. 8th, Samuel D. C. Reid, son of Capt. E. D. Reid and grandson of the late Dr. S. D. Culbertson, died in Chambersburg after a brief illness. He was 30 years old.
(Names in announcement: Samuel D. C. Reid, Capt. E. D. Reid, Dr. Culbertson)
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