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nexed. Thereupon the Secretary of State, upon
[Circular.] the 16th instant, in conformity with the pro
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, June 16, 1866. ceeding which was adopted by him in 1865, in To his Excellency regard to the then proposed and afterwards
Governor of the State of adopted congressional amendment of the Consti SIR: I have the honor to transmitan attestes tution of the United States concerning the pro- copy of a resolution of Congress, proposing w hibition of slavery, transmitted certified copies the legislatures of the several States a fourteesta of the annexed resolution to the Governors of article to the Constitution of the United States the several States, together with a certificate and The decisions of the several legislatures upon to: circular letter. A copy of both of these com- subject are required by law to be communicate munications are hereunto annexed.
to this Department. An acknowledgment of tice Respectfully submitted,
receipt of this communication is requested by WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Your excellency's most obedient servant, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, June 20, 1866.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
MAJORITY AND MINORITY REPORTS
JOINT COMMITTEE ON RECONSTRUCTION.
The Majority Report.
States were left at the close of the war; the June 18, 1866–Mr. FESSENDEN in the Senate, measures which have been taken towards the and Mr. STEVENS in the House, submitted this
reorganization of civil government, and the disposition of the people towards the United States ;
in a word, their fitness to take an active part in The Joint Committee of the two Houses of Con- the administration of national affairs.
As to their condition at the close of the rebelgress, appointed under the concurrent resolution of December 13, 1865, with direction to " in- lion, the evidence is open to all, and admits of quire into the condition of the States which po dispute. They were in a state of utter erformed the so-called Confederate States of against federal authority until all hope of suc
Having protracted their struggle 'America, and report whether they or any of cessful resistance had ceased, and laid down their them are entitled to be represented in either House of Congress, with leave to report by bill arms only because there was no longer any or otherwise," ask leave to report:
power to use them, the people of those States
were left bankrupt in their public finances, and That they have attended to the duty assigned shorn of the private wealth which had before them as assiduously as other duties would per- given them power and influence. They were mit, and now submit to Congress, as the result also necessarily in a state of complete anarchy, of their deliberations, a resolution proposing without governments and without the power to amendments to the Constitution, and two bills, frame governments except by the permission of of which they recommend the adoption. those who had been successful in the war. The
Before proceeding to set forth in detail their President of the United States, in the proclamareasons for the conclusion to which, after great tions under which he appointed provisional govdeliberation, your committee have arrived, they ernors, and in his various communications to beg leave to advert, briefly, to the curse of them, has, in exact terms, recognized the fact proceedings they found it necessary to adopt, that the people of those States were, when the and to explain the reasons therelor.
rebellion was crushed, "deprived of all civil The resolution under which your committee government,” and must proceed to organize was appointed directed them to inquire into the anew. In his conversation with Mr. Stearns, of condition of the Confederate States, and report Massachusetts, certified by himself, President whether they were entitled to representation in Johnson said “the State institutions are prosCongress. It is obvious that such an investiga- trated, laid out on the ground, and they must be tion, covering so large an extent of territory and taken up and adapted to the progress of events." involving so many important considerations, Finding the Southern States in this condition, must necessarily require no trifling labor, and and Congress having failed to provide for the consume a very considerable amount of time. contingency, his duty was obvious. As PresiIt must embrace the condition in which those dent of the United States he had no power, ex
cept to execute the laws of the land as Chief Jerly permit the people to assemble, and to initiMagistrate. These laws gave him no authority ate local governments, and to execute such local over the subject of reorganization; but by the laws as they might choose to frame not incon. Constitution he was commander-in-chief of the sistent with, nor in opposition to, the laws of army and navy of the United States. These the United States. And, if satisfied that they Confederate States embraced a portion of the might safely be left to themselves, he might people of the Union who had been in a state of withdraw the military forces altogether, and revolt, but had been reduced to obedience by leave the people of any or all of these States to force of arms. They were in an abnormal con- govern themselves without his interference. In dition, without civil government, without com- the language of the Secretary of State, in his mercial connections, without national or inter- telegram to the provisional governor of Georgia, national relations, and subject only to martial dated October 28, 1865, he might"recognize the law. By withdrawing their representatives in people of any State as having resumed the relaCongress, by renouncing the privilege of repre- tions of loyalty to the Union,” and act in his sentation, by organizing a separate government, military capacity on this hypothesis. All this and by levying war against the United States, was within his own discretion, as military comthey destroyed their state constitutions in res- mander. But it was not for him to decide upon pect to the vital principle which connected their the nature or effect of any system of government respective States with the Union and secured which the people of these States might see fit to their federal relations; and nothing of those adopt. This power is lodged by the Constitution constitutions was left of which the United States in the Congress of the United States, that branch were bound to take notice. For four years they of the government in which is vested the auhad a de facto government, but it was usurped thority to fix the political relations of the States and illegal. They chose the tribunal of arms to the Union, whose duty is to guarantee to wherein to decide whether or not it should be each State a republican form of government, and legalized, and they were defeated. At the close to protect each and all of them against foreign of the rebellion, therefore, the people of the re or domestic violence, and against each other. We bellious States were found, as the President ex- canrot, therefore, regard the various acts of the presses it, “deprived of all civil government.” President in relation to the formation of local
Under this state of affairs it was plainly the governments in the insurrectionary States, and duty of the President to enforce existing national the conditions imposed by him upon their action, laws, and to establish, as far as he could, such a in any other light than as intimations to the system of government as might be provided for people that, as commander-in-chief of the army, by existing national statutes. As commander- he would consent to withdraw military rule in-chief of a victorious army, it was his duty, just in proportion as they should, by their acts, under the law of nations and the army regula- manifest a disposition to preserve order among tions, to restore order, to preserve property, and themselves, establish governments denoting loyto protect the people against violence from any alty to the Union, and exhibit a settled determinaquarter until provision should be made by law tion to return to their allegiance, leaving with the for their government. He might, as President, law-making power to fix the terms of their final assemble Congress and submit the whole matter restoration to all their rights and privileges as to the law-making power ; or he might continue States of the Union. That this was the view of military supervision and control until Congress his power taken by the President is evident from should assemble on its egular appointed day. expressions to that effect in the communications Selecting the latter alternative, he proceeded, by of the Secretary of State to the various provisvirtue of his power as commander-in-chief, to ional governors, and the repeated declarations of appoint provisional governors over the revolted the President himself, Any other supposition States. These were regularly commissioned, and inconsistent with this would impute to the Presi. their compensation was paid, as the Secretary of dent designs of encroachment upon a co-ordinate War states, “from the appropriation for army branch of the government, which should not be contingencies, because the duties performed by lightly attributed to the Chief Magistrate of the the parties were regarded as of a temporary nation. character; ancillary to the withdrawal of mili When Congress assembled in December last tary force, the disbandment of armies, and the the people of most of the States lately in rebelreduction of military expenditure ; by provis- lion had, under the advice of the President, orional organizations for the protection of civil ganized local governments, and some of them rights, the preservation of peace, and to take had acceded to the terms proposed by him. In the place of armed force in the respective States.” his annual message he stated, in general terms, It cannot, we think, be contended that these what had been done, but he did not see fit to governors possessed, or could exercise, any but communicate the details for the information of military authority. They had no power to or- Congress. While in this and in a subsequent ganize civil governments, nor to exercise any message the President urged the speedy restoraauthority except that which inhered in their tion of these States, and expressed the opinion own persons under their commissions. Neither that their condition was such as to justify their had the President, as commander-in-chief, any restoration, yet it is quite obvious that Conother than military power. But he was in ex- gress must either have acted blindly on that clusive possession of the military authority. It opinion of the President, or proceeded to obtain
was for him to decide how far he would exercise the information requisite for intelligent action ; it, how far he would relax it, when and on what on the subject. The impropriety of proceeding in terms he would withdraw it. He might prop- wholly on the judgment of any one man, how
ever exalted his station, in a matter involving could only be had to the examination of wit. the welfare of the republic in all future time, or nesses whose position had given them the best of adopting any plan, coming from any source, means of forming an accurate judgment, who without fully understanding all its bearings and could state facts from their own observation, ani comprehending its full effect, was apparent. The whose character and standing afforded the best first step, therefore, was to obtain the required evidence of their truthfulness and impartiality. information. A call was accordingly made on A work like this, covering so large an extentoi the President for the information in his posses- territory, and embracing such complicated and sion as to what had been done, in order that extensive inquiries, necessarily required much Congress might judge for itself as to the grounds time and labor. To shorten the time as much of the belief expressed by him in the fitness of as possible, the work was divided and placed in States recently in rebellion to participate fully the hands of four sub-committees, who have in the conduct of national affairs. This informa- been diligently employed in its accomplishment tion was not immediately communicated. When The results of their labors have been heretofora the response was finally made, some six weeks submitted, and the country will judge how far after your committee had been in actual session, they sustain the President's views, and how far it was found that the evidence upon which the they justify the conclusions to which your conPresident seemed to have based his suggestions mittee have finally arrived. was incomplete and unsatisfactory. Authenti A claim for the immediate admission of Sena. cated copies of the new constitutions and ordi- tors and Representatives from the so-called Con. nances adopted by the conventions in three of federate States has been urged, which seems to the States had been submitted, extracts from your committee not to be founded either in reanewspapers furnished scanty information as to son or in law, and which cannot be passed withthe action of one other State, and nothing ap-out comment. Stated in a few words, it amounts pears to have been communicated as to the re- to this: That inasmuch as the lately insurgent mainder. There was no evidence of the loyalty States had no legal right to separate themselve: of those who had participated in these conven- from the Union, they still retain their positions tions, and in one State alone was any proposi- as States, and consequently the people thereo. tion made to submit the action of the conven- have a right to immediate representation in Coptions to the final judgment of the people. gress without the imposition of any conditions
Failing to obtain the desired information, and whatever; and further, that until such admisleft to grope for light wherever it might be found, sion Congress has no right to tax them for the your committee did not deem it either advisable support of the Government. It has even been or safe to adopt, without further examination, contended that until such admission all legislathe suggestions of the President, more especially tion affecting their interests is, if not unconstias he had not deemed it expedient to remove the tutional, at least unjustifiable and oppressive. military force, to suspend martial law, or to re It is believed by your committee that all these store the writ of habeas corpus, but still thought propositions are not only wholly untenable, but, it necessary to exercise over the people of the if admitted, would tend to the destruction of the rebellious States his military power and juris- Government. diction. This conclusion derived still greater It must not be forgotten that the people of these force from the fact, undisputed, that in all these States, without justification or excuse, rose in inStates, except Tennessee and perhaps Arkansas, surrection against the United States. They delibthe elections which were held for State officers erately abolished their State goverernments so and members of Congress had resulted, almost far as the same connected them politically with universally, in the defeat of candidates who had the Union as members thereof under the Constibeen true to the Union, and in the election of tution. They deliberately renounced their alle notorious and unpardoned rebels, men who could giance to the Federal Government, and pronot take the prescribed oath of office, and who ceeded to establish an independent government made no secret of their hostility to the Govern- for themselves. In the prosecution of this enterment and the people of the United States. Un- prise they seized the national forts, arsenals, dock der these circumstances, anything like hasty ac- yards, and other public property within their tion would have been as dangerous as it was borders, drove out from among them those who obviously unwise. It appeared to your com- remained true to the Union, and heaped every mittee that but one course remained, viz: to in- imaginable insult and injury upon the United vestigate carefully and thoroughly the state of States and its citizens. Finally they opened liosfeeling and opinion existing among the people tilities, and levied war against the Government of these States; to ascertain how far their pre They continued this war for four years with tended loyalty could be relied upon, and thence the most determined and malignant spirit, killing to infer whether it would be safe to admit them in battle and otherwise large numbers of loyal at once to a full participation in the Govern- people, destroying the property of loyal citizens ment they had fought for four years to destroy. on the sea and on the land, and entailing on the It was an equally important inquiry whether Government an enormous debt, incurred to sustheir restoration to their former relations with tain its rightful authority. Whether legally and the United States should only be granted upon constitutionally or not, they did, in fact, witbcertain conditions and guarantees which would draw from the Union and made themselves subeffectually secure the nation against a recur. jects of another government of their own creation. rence of evils so disastrous as those from which And they only yielded when, after a long, bloody, it had escaped at so enormous a sacrifice. and wasting war, they were compelled by utter
To obtain the necessary information recourse exhaustion to lay down their arms; aud this
they did not willingly, but declaring that they | eral authority. It must have a government yielded because they could no longer resist, afford- republican in form, under and by which it is ing no evidence whatever of repentance for their connected with the General Government, and crime, and expressing no regret, except that they through which it can discharge its obligations. had no longer the power to continue the despe- It is more than idle, it is a mockery, to contend rate struggle.
that a people who have thrown off their alleIt cannot, we think, be denied by any one, giance, destroyed the local government which having a tolerable acquaintance with public law, bound their States to the Union as members that the war thus waged was a civil war of the thereof, defied its authority, refused to execute greatest magnitude. The people waging it were its laws, and abrogated every provision which necessarily subject to all the rules which, by the gave them political rights within the Union, law of nations, control a contest of that charac- still retain, through all, the perfect and entire ter, and to all the legitimate consequences follow- right to resume, at their own will and pleasure, ing it. One of those consequences was that, within als their privileges within the Union, and espothe limits prescribed by humanity, the conquered cially to participate in its government, and to rebels were at the mercy of the conquerors." That control the conduct of its affairs. Tó admit a government thus outraged had a most perfect such a principle for one moment would be to right to exact indemnity for the injuries done declare that treason is always master and loyand security against the recurrence of such out- alty a blunder. Such a principle is void by its rages in the future would seem too clear for dis- very nature and essence, because inconsistent pute. What the nature of that security should with the theory of government, and fatal to its be, what proof should be required of a return to very existence. allegiance, what time should elapse before a peo On the contrary, we assert that no portion of ple thus demoralized should be restored in full the people of this country, whether in State or to the enjoyment of political rights and privileges, Territory, have the right, while remaining on its are questions for the law-making power to decide, soil, to withdraw from or reject the authority of and that decision must depend on grave consid- the United States. They must obey its laws as erations of the public safety and the general paramount, and acknowledge its jurisdiction. welfare.
They have no right to secede; and while they It is moreover contended, and with apparent can destroy their State governments, and place gravity, that, from the peculiar nature and themselves beyond the pale of the Union, so far character of our Government, no such right on as the exercise of State privileges is concerned, the part of the conqueror can exist; that from they cannot escape the obligations imposed upon the moment when rebellion lays down its arms them by the Constitution and the laws, nor imand actual hostilities cease, ali political rights pair the exercise of national authority. The Conof rebellious communities are at once restored; stitution, it will be observed, does not act upon that, because the people of a State of the Union States, as such, but upon the people; while, were once an organized community within the therefore, the people cannot escape its authority, Union, they necessarily so remain, and their the States may, through the act of their people, right to be represented in Congress at any and all cease to exist in an organized form, and thus times, and to participate in the government of dissolve their political relations with the United the country under all circumstances, admits of States. neither question nor dispute. If this is indeed That taxation should be only with the consent true, then is the Government of the United of the taxed, through their own representatives, States powerless for its own protection, and is a cardinal principle of all free governments; flagrant rebellion, carried to the extreme of but it is not true that taxation and representacivil war, is a pastime which any State may tion must go together under all circumstances, play at, not only certain that it can lose noth- and at every moment of time. The people of the ing in any event, but may even be the gainer by District of Columbia and of the Territories are defeat. "If rebellion succeeds, it accomplishes taxed, although not represented in Congress. If its purpose and destroys the Government. If it it is true that the people of the so-called Confedfails, the war has been barren of results, and rate States had no right to throw off the authe battle may be still fought out in the legis- thority of the United States, it is equally true lative halls of the country. Treason, defeated that they are bound at all times to share the in the field, has only to take possession of Con- burdens of government. They cannot, either lo gress and the cabinet.
gally or equitably, refuse to bear their just proYour committee does not deem it either neces- portion of these burdens by voluntarily abdi. sary or proper to discuss the question whether cating their rights and privileges as States of the late Confederate States are still States of the Union, and refusing to be represented in the this Union, or can even be otherwise. Grant-councils of the nation, much less by rebellion ing this profitless abstraction, about which so against national authority and levying war, many words have been wasted, it by no means To hold that by so doing they could escape taxfollows that the people of those States may not ation would be to offer a premium for insurrecplace themselves in a condition to abrogate the tion, to reward instead of punishing for treason, powers and privileges incident to a State of the To hold that as soon as government is restored Union, and deprive
themselves of all pretence of to its full authority it can be allowed no time to right to exercise those powers and enjoy those secure itself against similar wrongs in the fuprivileges. A State within the Union has obli- ture, or else omit the ordinary exercise of its gations to discharge as a member of the Union. constitutional power to compel equal contribuit must submit to federal laws and uphold fed- tion from all towards the expenses of govern
ment, would be unreasonable in itself and tation for all necessarily follows. As a conx. unjust to the nation. It is sufficient to reply that quence the inevitable effect of the rebellico the loss of representation by the people of the would be to increase the political power of the insurrectionary States was their own voluntary insurrectionary States, whenever they shoubi choice. They might abandon their privileges, be allowed to resume their positions as States o? but they could not escape their obligations; the Union. As representation is by the Constiand surely they have no right to complain tution based upon population, your commitin if, before resuming those privileges, and while the did not think it advisable to recommend a people of the United States are devising measures change of that basis. The increase of represen. for the public safety, rendered necessary by tation necessarily resulting from the abolition the act of those who thus disfranchised them- of slavery was considered the most important selves, they are compelled to contribute their element in the questions arising out of the just proportion of the general burden of taxa- changed condition of affairs, and the necessity tion incurred by their wickedness and folly. for some fundamental action in this regard
Equally absurd is the pretense that the legis- seemed imperative. It appeared to your comlative authority of the nation must be inopera- mittee that the rights of these persons by whom tive so far as they are concerned, while they, by the basis of representation had been thus in. their own act, have lost the right to take part creased should be recognized by the General in it. Such a proposition carries its own refu. Government. While slaves, they were not contation on its face.
sidered as having any rights, civil or political. While thus exposing fallacies which, as your It did not seem just or proper that all the politicommittee believe, are resorted to for the purpose cal advantages derived from their becoming free of misleading the people and distracting their at- should be confined to their former masters, who tention from the questions at issue, we freely had fought against the Union, and withheld admit that such a condition of things should be from themselves, who had always been loyal brought, if possible, to a speedy termination. Slavery, by building up a ruling and dominant It is most desirable that the Union of all the class, had produced a spirit of oligarchy adverse States should become perfect at the earliest mo- to republican institutions, which finally inaugument consistent with the peace and welfare of rated civil war. The tendency of continuing the nation ; that all these States should become the domination of such a class, by leaving it in fully represented in the national councils, and the exclusive possession of political power, would take their share in the legislation of the coun- be to encourage the same spirit, and lead to a try. The possession and exercise of more than similar result. Doubts were entertained whether its just share of power by any section is inju-Congress had power, even under the amended rious, as well to that section as to all others. Its Constitution, to prescribe the qualifications of tendency is distracting and demoralizing, and voters in a State, or could act directly on the such a state of affairs is only to be tolerated on subject. It was doubtful, in the opinion of your the ground of a necessary regard to the public committee, whether the States would consent to safety. As soon as that safety is secured it surrender a power they had always exercised, should terminate.
and to which they were attached. As the best, Your committee came to the consideration of if not the only, method of surmounting the difiithe subject referred to them with the most culty, and as eminently just and proper in itself, anxious desire to ascertain what was the condi- your committee came to the conclusion that
potion of the people of the States recently in in-litical power should be possessed in all the States surrection, and what, if anything, was necessary exactly in proportion as the right of suffrage to be done before restoring them to the full en should be granted, without distinction of color joyment of all their original privileges. It was
This it was thought would leave the undeniable that the war into which they had whole question with the people of each State. plunged the country had materially changed holding out to all the advantage of increased their relations to the people of the loyal States. political power as an inducement to allow all to Slavery had been abolished by constitutional participate in its exercise. Such a provision amendment. A large proportion of the popu- would be in its nature gentle and persuasive, lation had become, instead of mere chattels, and would lead, it was hoped, at no distant day, free men and citizens. Through all the past. to an equal participation of all, without distino struggle these had remained true and loyal, and tion, in all the rights and privileges of citizenhad, in large numbers, fought on the side of the ship, thus affording a full and adequate protec; Union. It was impossible to abandon them tion to all classes of citizens, since all would without securing them their rights as free men have, through the ballot-box, the power of selfand citizens. The whole civilized world would protection. have cried out against such base ingratitude, Holding these views, your committee prepared and the bare idea is offensive to all right-think- an amendment to the Constitution.to carry out ing men. Hence it became important to inquire this idea, and submitted the same to Congress. what could be done to secure their rights, civil Unfortunately, as we think, it did not receive and political. It was evident to your committee the necessary constitutional support in the Senthat adequate security could only be found in ate, and therefore could not be proposed for appropriate constitutional provisions. By an adoption by the States. The principle involved original provision of the Constitution, represen- in that amendment is, however, believed to be tation is based on the whole number of free sound, and your committee have again proposed persons in each State, and three-fifths of all it in another form, hoping that it may receive other persons. When all become free, represen- the approbation of Congress.