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that they were determined to find out who the petitioners were, and he presumed that steps were being taken to get a copy of the petition with a view of persecuting the men who had sent it here. The letter requested me to interfere for their protection if I could do so, but I knew no way to do it. The matter rested there, until to-day I received another letter from this same gentleman at Staunton, dated May 20, 1866, in which he says:
"The rebels of this place through A. H. H. Stuart, of Staunton"
He had informed me in his former letter that the prosecuting attorney there was also one of the persons who had made threats against these loyal men for sending a petition to Congress
"The rebels of this place through A. H. H. Stuart of Staunton and Joseph Segar, as I learn, have gotten the names from Washington of the signers of the petition of the Union citizens of this county praying for troops, &c., which you recently presented to Congress. It was done for the purpose of injuring us in every possible manner, as events have proved. The rebels have even intimidated some of the signers, some six or seven, until they have actually signed cards in the rebel papers, denying that they signed the petition. I therefore respectfully request that you will cause to be forwarded to me immediately the original petition in order that those who procured the names may be relieved of this infamous charge against us of forgery. Is it possible, sir, that we have no rights (which in this case are guarantied by the Constitution) because we are white, loyal men?"
I ask leave to withdraw the original petition with a view of sending it to the gentlemen who forwarded it to me that they may protect themselves, as far as this will enable them to do so, against the accusations which have been brought upon them; and I regret it is not in my power to propose some measure that shall protect them from the ignominy and persecution that is brought upon them for no cause save their loyalty to the country and the exercise of a constitutional right belonging to the humblest citizen in the land of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances. A copy of the petition can be left with the committee, which I suppose will answer every purpose. I ask leave to withdraw the original petition, leaving a copy with the committee.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. It is moved and seconded that the Senator from Illinois be authorized to withdraw from the Committee on Military Affairs the petition presented by him which was referred to that committee by order of the Senate some time since.
Mr. HOWARD. I beg to say that some weeks ago I received a letter from a gentleman of my acquaintance residing in Staunton, Virginia, requesting me to procure a copy of the petition to which the honorable Senator from Illinois has referred and forward it to him, he alleging in his communication to me that he had strong reason to believe that the signatures, or many of them, attached to the petition were forged, and that it was impossible to ascertain in Staunton or in the vicinity any person who had set his name to the petition. The letter which I received was written in a spirit quite hostile to the signers of the petitions or to those who sympathized with the object of the petition. I immediately resorted to the committee-room of the Committee on Military Affairs and made a personal examination of the petitions; there were two or three of them I believe. I examined the signatures with considerable care and ascertained that there was a certificate of authenticity attached to each one of the petitions, setting forth that the signatures were genuine and identifying the individuals who had signed them.
I replied to my correspondent stating what I had done, saying to him that under the circumstances I did not feel at liberty to furnish him with copies of those petitions, but at the same time informing him of the nature of the petitions and the mode in which they were authenticated, and assuring him that so far as I could discover I had every reason to believe that the signatures were all genuine and that the persons signing the petition were genuine
show with what perseverance it is that certain persons at Staunton have sought to obtain matter of accusation against persons who are supposed to have signed these petitions. I do not know, I confess, what good will result from the withdrawal of the petition.
Mr. TRUMBULL. It will enable these men to protect themselves against the charge of forgery.
Mr. HOWARD. If that is the sole object the Senator has in view, I shall have no objection to that, but I would not propose to have the petition withdrawn if any further wrangling or ill feeling was to be the result of the withdrawal of the petition.
Mr. TRUMBULL. The petitioner himself who sent it to me has asked leave to withdraw it.
Mr. WILSON. I have sent to the committee-room for the petition; and I find that there are four oaths made before proper officers to the genuineness of the signatures. I will say that Mr. Segar, one of the Senators-elect from Virginia, called on me and expressed a wish to obtain a copy of the petition and the names of the petitioners. He did not state to me why he wanted it, or for what purpose, except that it was thought by some persons that the signatures were not genuine. He went to my committee-room and my clerk made a copy for him. I did not suppose there was any improper purpose in it. I am sorry to learn, as I have learned, that this has been used for the purpose of oppressing, persecuting, and threatening the signers of the petition. I will have a copy of the paper made and return the original to the Senator from Illinois.
Mr. SUMNER. I hope the Senate will not take this step without considering its importance. I do not mean to oppose the taking of it, but I do wish to call the attention of the Senate to what I may call its gravity. I am not aware that a petition has ever before been withdrawn on a motion like that which is now made. A petition once presented comes into the possession of the Senate; it passes into its files and into the archives of the Capitol. I think we are about to make a precedent for the first time. I do not, however, say that the occasion does not justify the precedent. I incline to agree with my friend from Illinois that it does. We surely owe protection, so far as we can afford it, to these petitioners; and as the Senator from Illinois suggests that this is the best way, I am disposed to follow his suggestion; but in doing it, I wish that the Senate should take notice of the character of the step, and of the precedent that they are about to make.
But this is not all, sir. I wish the Senate to take notice that they are called to adopt this unusual precedent by the abnormal and brutal condition of the social system about these petitioners. The very fact which the Senator from Illinois now brings to the attention of the Senate, and on account of which he invokes an unprecedented exercise of power, is important evidence as to the condition of things in one of these rebel States. It goes to show that they are not yet in any just sense reconstructed, or prepared for reconstruction. Such an abnormal fact as this could not occur in any other part of our broad country. That it occurs here is to be referred peculiarly to those remains of rebellion which have not yet been subdued, but which you are now called upon, in the exercise of all the powers intrusted to you under the Constitution, solemnly to subdue. I therefore, sir, regard this transaction in a double light: first as an important precedent to be established in the business of the Senate; secondly, as illustrating a condition of things in the rebel States to justify every exercise of care and diligence on our part to the end that it shall not bring forth similar fruits hereafter. Mr. FESSENDEN. I hope we shall now proceed with the regular business of the day, and I really must call upon our friends to be a little forbearing when that business comes up in its regular order. When it is called up it is usual to bring up something or other that a
Senator wants to get off his hands, and then everybody debates it, and time goes on, and it is not fair to the Senator who has the floor, nor is it exactly the thing with reference to the business of the Senate. I hope, therefore, unless there is a pressing necessity for this matter, that it will go over until to-morrow.
Mr. TRUMBULL. It is disposed of, I think. Mr. FESSENDEN. Then I hope Senators will talk no more about it.
Mr. WILSON. If it is not disposed of let it go over until to-morrow.
Mr. TRUMBULL. The parties want the paper in consequence of these accusations. I suppose there will be no further debate about it. Mr. FESSENDEN. Very well.
Mr. TRUMBULL. It is not an unusual thing to withdraw a paper from the files of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The ques tion is on the motion of the Senator from Illinois, that he be permitted to withdraw this petition from the Committee on Military Affairs for the purpose stated by him.
The motion was agreed to.
The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed the consideration of the joint resolu tion (H. R. No. 127) proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the pending question being on the amendment offered by Mr. WADE.
Mr. STEWART. Mr. President, I am satisfied that it is impossible for this Congress to fully agree as to what is expedient to be done to harmonize factions and restore peace to our distracted country. Every one is liable to esti mate the sentiments of the whole country by the views of a few friends or a small portion of his constituents, modified by his own peculiar ideas and wishes. This has and will continue to produce an irreconcilable conflict of opinions upon all questions of mere expe diency. There is very little difference of opin ion among Union men as to what ought to be done if we had the power to do it. I have always been of the opinion that it was expedient to do right. In this case we must agree as to what is right and do it, for we cannot agree as to what is expedient or what is likely to return A, B, or C to Congress. The Union party are agreed that all men are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. and they will indorse any necessary means to secure these inalienable rights to every American citi
The more direct and positive the plan the better. All digressions from principle or compromises of human rights, whether by Congress or the President, only involve us in new difficulties and increase our embarrassments. The President's plan of restoration was unsat isfactory, because it ignored the rights and excluded from constitutional liberty four million loyal citizens guilty of no offense but fidelity to the Government, and at the same time deprived the friends of the Union of the cooperation of these loyal citizens in maintaining the integrity of the Constitution, the honor of our brave soldiers, and the financial burdens of the war; because it placed the State governments of the South in the hands of the very men who plunged the country into war for secession and the extension of slavery, and because it admitted into Congress an increased representation of the disloyal elements of the rebellion. Yet it was better than no plan, no restoration, no Union, and no peace. The paramount importance of speedy restoration made me hesitate to condemn the plan of the President for want of a better. I was unwilling to pull down without the material at hand
with which to rebuild.
But in the progress of events, two noble sentiments became manifest to me upon which the people of the loyal North might unite; protection for the Union and the friends of the Union, and mercy to a fallen foe. The attainment of these humane objects promised restoration and peace. I reflected seriously upon a solution of our difficalties by an appeal which
addresses itself only to the most Christian qualities of humanity, and examined with great anxiety every plan presented. I found none which promised security for the future and protection for the friends of the Government, and at the same time extended mercy to its ememies. Every proposal was wanting either in justice or mercy. Mercy pleaded generous amnesty; justice demanded impartial suffrage. Both were buried beneath an ocean of prejudice. But the voice of an enlightened press and the arguments of earnest men in Congress inspired me with the hope that a direct proposition for a settlement of the questions at issue might finally succeed. I proposed pardon for the rebels and the ballot for the blacks. The general plan was, and still is, approved by the loyal press with no important exception, while every scheme based upon expediency alone has disappeared like the mist of the morning before the rising sun. Although the advocacy of the resolutions subjected me to some invidious criticisms by persons who judge the motives of others by their own, yet no one has attempted an argument against the humanity and justice of the propositions.
If those who have always entertained the the same views upon all subjects cannot vote for my resolution because they think it inconsistent for me to advocate negro suffrage, I shall be satisfied if I can obtain the votes of those only who have held themselves open to conviction and have sometimes changed their opinions. Give me the votes of those who have changed with the progress of events during the last six years, and the balance may vote as they please. Those who, in the language of Mr. Lincoln, "adopt new views when ever they appear to be true views," are the only persons wise or useful in this age of progress. The world moves, and those who do not perceive it are dead to the living issues of the day. I have always advocated the necessity of taking the world as we find it, and following the logic of events. The development of new facts is constantly exploding old theories. The trouble is that some men do not seem to comprehend the new facts. The attempt to apply the theories of slavery to a condition of freedom is the most dangerous evil of the age, yet those who do this boast of their consistency. They were educated to believe that a negro was a slave, possessing no rights that a white man was bound to respect, and they believed it still, and they are astonished at the inconsistencies of the world and its tendency to recognize the rights of man.
In advocating this plan my only hope of success is predicated upon the principles involved, and although it may receive no favor and few votes now, I am profoundly impressed with the conviction, that if this Union is ever restored, it must be done with impartial suffrage and general amnesty. Gentlemen on all sides freely admit the justice of these principles, but express a fear that the country is not yet prepared to meet the issue. Let us not deceive ourselves; the people understand these questions better than we suppose. The leading minds of the nation have proclaimed from the beginning the doctrine of these resolutions. The people are in advance of Congress in their demands for justice, and in their magnanimous generosity to a vanquished enemy. All they demand is security for the future, and with it they proceed to the work of restoration "with malice toward none, with charity for all." To start right in this matter it is only necessary to adhere to first principles, and constantly bear in mind that
"Mankind are all by nature free and equal,
'Tis their consent alone gives just dominion." Protection and allegiance are reciprocal. It is the duty of the Government to protect; of the subject to obey. Where both these duties are performed by the respective parties, peace and order must follow. Monarchical government is founded upon the idea that the sovereign is the source of all power and the guardian of the rights of the people. Republican
tution in conflict with human liberty, and in conflict with the Union, and in destroying it. we were compelled to overthrow its defenders; but if you have ceased to defend it and war upon the Union we will now cease to harm you?" || All we want is justice for all men, and we will become the advocates of mercy for all men and amnesty and forgiveness for the past and a promise of friendship for the future. Let justice and mercy stand together, and the demands of each are satisfied.
"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
government is founded upon the idea that the loyal States-in short, with every loyal man who people are the only source of legitimate author- loves the Union and hates its enemies. But it ity and the guardians of their own rights through is not the part of men and Christians to appeal the instrumentality of the ballot. The theory to these most natural sentiments of the human of monarchical government is that the sover- heart unless it be necessary to continue the eign only can be trusted; the theory of repub-conflict for the attainment of a great principle. lican government is that the people must be Now is the time to declare for human rights trusted. Monarchical and republican Govern- and the equality of man before the law, and if ments are the only Governments tolerable among that be still denied no human power can stay men. The mixed forms of oligarchies and the conflict. But can we not now claim that aristocracies are only a multiplication of tyrants the loyal men of this nation by their valor and to prey upon the people. Our fathers estabby their sacrifices have won not only for themlished a republican Government on the repre- selves but for every man in all this broad land sentative basis, and declared that all power the glorious right of self-government, and that emanated from the people, and that all men they and their posterity are to reap a rich harwere equal in the right to exercise that power vest of blessings as the fruits of the free instiin a constitutional way at the ballot-box. But tutions they have rescued? May we not say to in practice they failed to come up to the high the South, "It was not your young men whose standard of their theory; they even tolerated lives we sought, it was not your property we slavery as an unavoidable evil, and from a sup- desired to destroy, but we found these shelterposed necessity ignored all the civil and polit-ing and protecting and hedging about an instiical rights of the colored man, and even counted him as a chattel. It was a declaration of rights for all men, but a Government for white men only. The theory was good, the practice in this respect fatally defective. Disfranchisement and slavery in a portion of the Republic produced the results which might have been expected. The master exercised, both in the local and General Government, the power belonging to him as a freeman and the power belonging to his slaves. This created an inequality in the beginning. The slaveholder was more powerful than the non-slaveholder. This inequality and violation of republican principles produced arrogance and intolerance on the part of the slaveholding South, and jealousy and hatred on the part of the non-slaveholding North. Free labor was odious to the southern aristocracy, slave labor was still more odious to the Democracy of the North. For a time an effort was made by our statesmen to keep up a balance of power between the slave and non-slaveholding States, and all manner of expediencies were attempted to compromise and reconcile the irrepressible conflict between slavery and freedom, but all to no purpose. Neither felt safe, or, indeed, was safe, while its antagonistic principle existed in the Government. The inevitable conflict came, and after four years of death, carnage, and desolating war, democracy was triumphant, and the aristocratic institutions of the South, based upon slavery and inequality of human rights, were overthrown and utterly crushed. The triumph of arms was complete. The question now presented is, shall the triumph of democratic principles be equally so? There are two great obstacles in the way, both based upon passion and prejudice, and each seems nearly insurmountable. One is hatred of rebels, and a demand that they shall be disfranchised and enslaved for disfranchisement is slavery. The other is hatred of the negro, and a demand that he shall be disfranchised and robbed of the power of self-protection and virtually reënslaved. The great mass of the people of the South are either rebels or blacks, and if we yield to either demand the struggle is not ended. The democratic principle of the equality of all men in the right to protect themselves at the ballot-box will still be denied. The party left in power, whether it be black men or white men, will soon display all the meaner qualities of petty despotism, intolerance, arrogance, contempt for labor, and above all a fierce hatred for the democratic protective principle of the equality of man. If we yield to both these demands, and disfranchise both blacks and whites, what will become of our free Government, for which we were willing to sacrifice the last dollar and the last man? I am aware with what effect the argument for disfranchisement of rebels can be urged to the soldier, still heated with the conflict of battle; to the widows and orphans, destitute and sorrowing beneath the afflictions brought upon them by a wicked and cruel rebellion; with the laboring masses of the North, still smarting under the insults heaped by southern aristocracy upon the "mudsill" democracy of the
Let justice be done and then it becomes the duty of every loyal man to invoke mercy even for those who have attempted the destruction of our free institutions. We will then reflect that the South is not alone responsible for slavery and all its woes; that the North and civilized Europe have all played a part in planting this vile institution upon the most favored section of our common country; and that the whole nation has been clothed in sackcloth and ashes for this great crime. When the evil is removed and the rights of man acknowledged we will cease to inquire who is most to blame or who is most guilty, but we will labor to forget the past in view of the bright prospect of universal peace and universal justice. But while the war lasts, whether it be a conflict upon the battlefield or at the ballot-box, all men loyal to equal rights and even-handed justice will be arrayed in fierce antagonism with the enemies of liberty. But it is said that the negro is ignorant. Grant That he is inferior to the white. Grant it. That the great mass of them will not vote intelligently. Grant it. But what are you to do with him? He must either exercise his own political rights or somebody must exercise them for him. You once trusted the duty of exer cising both the civil and political rights of the blacks to the whites and it came near destroying every spark of republicanism they ever possessed. It destroyed all their love for democratic institutions, and caused them to make almost superhuman efforts to destroy the best democratic-republican Government ever organ
It is now a fixed fact that it is not safe to add to the political and social power of the white man the political and social power of the black man. The white man cannot exercise that amount of power and remain a friend of free institutions; hence it becomes a necessity either to destroy the negro so that he shall no longer be a source of power to corrupt the whites, or to trust him with his own political and civil rights. One thing is certain, that the negro must have the ballot or have no friends and being poor and friendless, and surrounded as he is by enemies, his fate is extermination.
But give him the ballot, and he will have plenty of white friends, for the people of the United States love votes and office more than they hate negroes. I need not allude to the kindly feelings the ballot secures for the poor, for you have plenty of illustrations at every election. There are many classes of poor people in the North who would be little better than slaves but for the power of the ballot, before which not only politicians but merchant princes and millionaires tremble; and the mighty Executive of forty million people bows in humble submission to the omnipotent power of the ballot. In a republic it is mightier than both pen and sword. Before slavery was abolished the master was interested in protecting the slave from ruffianism and violence, but now he has no protection but the sword or the ballot. We will not give him the former. We want no more blood. We must give him the latter or betray him from slavery, not to liberty, but to destruction. We talk of giving equal civil rights, but he answers in the language of the poet
"So let them ease their hearts with prate Of equal rights which men ne'er knew; I have a love for freedom too." Give him the ballot and he will secure his own freedom, which includes all the balance.
Freedmen's Bureaus, civil rights bills, are all very well in their way, but very expensive in their operation. They can effect very little in protecting or governing four million people. The government of a Freedmen's Bureau is not self-government, and the sooner we commence to give these people self-government the better. Immediate and universal suffrage may not be wise, but what danger can there be to allow all the negroes to vote with like educational, intellectual, and moral qualifications with the whites hereafter to become voters. If the rising generation of whites are unable to compete on equal terms in these respects with their late slaves, the negro must be regarded as superior. But there is no question of competition in it. It is simply a question of self-protection, and the negro must have the ballot for his own protection, and it must come to this before the conflict will cease. The whites who have been in this rebellion must also have the ballot and full enfranchisement or they must be driven out of the country, for if you retain them here disfranchised enemies, the extraordinary powers necessarily devolved upon the few whom you trust with political rights must make them tyrants. The principle is that a man to be free must exercise political power for himself. If he is not allowed to do this he is a slave. If he is allowed to do more he is to that extent a despot. Every attempt to govern the people of any State by a minority, however loyal that minority may be, is a mockery on republican institutions and will inevitably produce anarchy and discord. We must either abandon our principles or repudiate the idea of dealing with irresponsible minorities and calling them the people. There will be no peace or prosperity in Maryland, Missouri, or Tennessee until the people are enfranchised.
But we are told that if the rebels are allowed to vote those States will fall immediately into disloyal hands; that the power of those States will be used to embarrass the Government and to degrade and persecute loyal men. This is undoubtedly true if the rebels only are enfranchised; but that they will ultimately, and at no distant day, achieve the ballot no sensible man can doubt. In their struggle to obtain this, so necessary for their protection, millions of the American people will sympathize, aid, and approve their efforts, for the principle that a white man (who is allowed to live) ought to vote is too deep-rooted in the nature of the American people to be ignored or repudiated. But they tell us when this is done the life and liberty of every loyal man, both black and white, is in jeopardy. Grant it. Nobody is insane enough to doubt it. But what is the remedy? There are but two: military despotism by the General Government, or an exten
sion of the franchise to the loyal as well as the disloyal; for in each of those States the majority of the whole people are to-day acknowledged to be loyal; and whether we are in favor of negro suffrage or not is not the question. The question is, shall this Government be in loyal or disloyal hands-in the hands of its friends or the hands of its enemies? It is too late for the Republican party to dodge the issue. There have been too many speeches made in this Congress in favor of negro suffrage to deny that it is a part of the Republican creed. There have been too many votes in this Congress sustaining the principle of suffrage to admit of any doubt of the real design and purposes of the Union party. If we deny our principles the proof of our insincerity will overwhelm us before the people. There is nothing left, if we would have a party, but to affirm and justify our principles. Any attempt to hide them is prima facie evidence that they are contraband of political warfare, and subject to confiscation before the tribunal of the people. I was slow in committing myself to the necessity of negro suffrage. My constituents were opposed to it; my education and mode of thinking had been opposed to it; but when I found the Union party committed to it; when I was thoroughly convinced that it alone would protect the negro and redeem the pledge of the Government that he should be free; when I was forced to the conclusion that the fifteen original slave States must shortly be handed over to the enemies of the Government to aid the Democracy in repudiating the national debt, and, perchance, paying the confederate debt, in making loyalty odious and treason honorable, in rewarding traitors and persecuting Union men, unless we extended the ballot to the friends of the Union for our mutual protection, I was resolved to meet the issue, and meet it squarely. Any attempt to conceal our designs will be proof positive of a conscious weakness and a want of faith in the correctness of our principles.
Mr. SAULSBURY. I desire to ask the Senator a question.
Mr. STEWART. I prefer not to be interrupted.
Mr. SAULSBURY. Does the Senator from Nevada say that the Democratic party of this. country would, if they had it in their power, repudiate the national debt or would assume the confederate debt? I should like a frank answer. I only refer to it because I observe that the Senator has repeated an intimation which I have seen in the public press.
Mr. STEWART. I will answer the Senator very frankly. For myself, I think there is too much danger to run the risk of giving them the power, and I propose to retain it and not take the chances.
The second section of the constitutional amendment proposed by the committee can be justified upon no other theory than that the negroes ought to vote; and negro suffrage must be vindicated before the people in sustaining that section, for it does not exclude the non-voting population of the North, because it is admitted that there is no wrong in excluding from suffrage aliens, females, and minors. But we say, if the negro is excluded from suffrage he shall also be excluded from the basis of representation. Why this inequality? Why this injustice? For injustice it would be unless there be some good reason for this discrimination against the South in excluding her non-voting population from the basis of representatiou. The only defense that we can make to this apparent injustice is that the South commits an outrage upon human rights when she denies the ballot to the blacks, and we will not allow her to take advantage of her own wrong, or profit by this outrage. Does any one suppose it possible to avoid this plain issue before the people? For if they will sustain you in reducing the representation of the South because she does not allow the negro to vote, they will do so because they think it is wrong to disfranchise him. Why, then, I ask, will they not sustain you in
stopping the wrong at once? Why license the South to outrage equal rights for the small compensation of reduced representation? You do not license murder. Why not? Because it is a crime. Why should you barter away human rights and authorize oppression? Is that no crime?
It is most evident, sir, if we gain a victory at all it will be because the people are satisfied the black loyalist ought to vote; the verdict will be for suffrage. But the verdict will be surplusage. No judgment can be entered on it in favor of human rights. The issue in the pleadings is too narrow. The relief sought cannot be granted. The rebel State governments, with all their local machinery, must at once fall into the hands of the enemies of the Union, and both the black and white loyalists must then be turned over to the tender mercies of a fierce people smarting under a thousand imaginary wrongs and burning with unquenchable vengeance. But you say you will disfranchise the rebels, and the plan of the committee proposes continuance of test oaths, disfranchisements, exclusions from Federal office, &c. The accomplishment of this involves military despotism and the utter destruction of republican institutions in the South. This only aggravates the evils, adds to the calamities of our common country; for, instead of liberating four million blacks, you will have enslaved eight million whites. The President of the United States will become Dictator as well as President-Dictator of eleven States, President of twenty-five. Since it is evident that we must either have disfranchisement and military despotism or enfranchisement and liberty, there can be no doubt of the verdict of the American people. They have had more difficult questions to decide, and have decided on the broad principles of human rights. The united voice of the loyal North demands the opportunity to settle every question that can again disturb the peace or endanger the liberties of the people or the perpetuity of the Union once for all. The patriotic sentiments echoed from the mountains of Switzerland are reëchoed from the loyal American heart. Grant impartial suffrage and universal amnesty, and the great work is accomplished. I ask the Secretary to read the Swiss address.
The Secretary read as follows: Address of the Swiss Conventions (Comites) (of Geneva, Bale, Neufchatel, Tessin, and Berne) in favor of the freedmen, and of the Assembly convocated at Geneva on the 29th March, 1866, by the Genevan Convention. To the President and
Congress of the United States of America: Mr. President, Messrs. Members of Congress: For four years we have, as it were, lived with you, have borne your grievances, been rendered joyous at your deliverance, and have gloried in your success.
When the election of Lincoln announced to the world that you had had enough of the system which abased you, enough of complicity and compromise with slavery, of man-hunting ordained by slavery. of conquests for the profit of slavery, of politics in favor of the party of slavery, we gave thanks to God. When your Union was disrupted by revolt, when your prosperity was crippled, (écroulé,) when many voices had prophesied the dissolution of the Union, we hailed the commencement of a new and a better life for your people.
When military reverses menaced your noble cause, we still believed that it would not perish. When Europe lent, or seemed to lend, an intervention in favor of the South toward violating your blockades and in recognition of the rebel confederacy, we always believed that something would interpose itself between the design and the execution; that your grand principle would intervene, and through that you would become invincible.
When it was generally believed and said that peass negotiations would render nugatory the moral results of the war, that you would compromise with the prejudices and the institutions of the South, we always believed that you would not lay down your arms until you had destroyed your real enemy, that is to say, slavery.
When the death of Lincoln plunged us in mourning, we believed that Lincoln's successor would stake his honor on the continuance and the completion of his work.
Finally, when you have announced to the world that the constitutional amendment was adopted, that already there was no single slave upon the soil of the Union, we have heard within expressible emotion this glorious progress, this greatest event of our
It is this sentiment which we would manifest today as a duty. Of slight importance though the testimony may be, it shall not be said that the voice of Switzerland should not make itself heard in your
applause. You have far surpassed the hopes of those who hoped the most. At the same moment in which your trials terminated you pronounced the talismanie word of freedom. It will make itself heard throughout the New World; the Spanish treaty will be suppressed; you will annihilate Brazilian slavery. A whole race suffering in bondage shall be freed at the sound.
These are rare days in the history of mankind, when politics and the Gospel move hand in hand-these days of sunshine unobscured by a cloud.
After such days, in resuming the course of ordinary life, we should guard against dangers from contingencies, and set aside obstacles. To finish is more difficult than to begin; to make sure its application more arduous than the annunciation of a principle.
The labors that await you to-day are not less important, and are more complex and difficult to surmount than those of yesterday.
But the one goes not without the other. Sad will be the condition of your enfranchised slaves if you make not citizens of them.
Between slavery and liberty-real liberty-there are no breathing-places. Thus, what do the enemies of the Union now predict? That freedom will destroy the freedmen: that, tired of them, you will succumb to the ennui of the fatiguing problem; that you will no longer listen to the voice of the poor negroes; that it will not matter to you whether they remain or depart, whether they live or die; that in the rude contact with your prejudices and contempt they will perish, as the Indians have perished; that your pharisaical abolition will find itself resulting in their extermination; that the pure glory of to-day will turn to shame on the morrow.
We protest against such dark presages; we ask that they may be branded with falschood. We know that your acts will so brand them, and very soon.
The more you desire the dark question to cease troubling the United States the more you will feel that it must be disposed of. Unfinished questions have no pity for the repose of mankind. And how shall that completion be attained? But two things remain to be done: to maintain your Freedmen's Bureau and to suppress all civil and political distinctions on account of color. To refuse Federal protection to the slaves that were a protection indispensable to the transition-is to give them up purely and simply to the laws, the administration, the tribunals of the South. It would be to decree the reestablishment of slavery with the addition of hatred, and, by consequence, of atrocity. To conserve political exclusion to the black race, as a race, would be to deny the principle, even the name, for which the North' has so valiantly combated.
That prudent measures should accompany the conferring of the right of suffrage in the South-that, for instance, it should be limited to those who can read and write, without distinction of color-we can well understand. But what we cannot understand, nor can any of those who teach and sustained your cause, is the exclusion of the race. If the southern States were readmitted to Congress without imposing upon them, as a condition, the equality of races, we should bitterly deplore it; we would bow the head in humility and sadness, and await in fear a recommencement of those hostilities between the South and North, between the Republicans and the Democrats, the end of which had seemed only to have come round.
But what would most disturb all our hopes would be to see those freedmen who had spilled their blood for the defense of the Union rewarded for their devotion by being deprived of those rights which are, in all republican Governments, the appanage of those brave men who are called to bear arms for their country, at the same time that the rebels, who had torn the bosom of their country, and begged the intervention of the foreigner, not only reënjoy the rights they had before the war, but made the arbiters absolute of the fate of loyal citizens. To give to those guilty of high treason the power to reduce good citizens to the position of political pariahs is to reward treachery and to discourage patriotism-to give in to those who pronounced self-government impossible and selfannihilating.
That one condition necessary to future peace should be imposed on the rebel States, the sense, namely, of the above, we doubt not you understand, for you have already imposed upon them an affirmative vote upon the amendment abolishing slavery.
One step more, and your task is finished. By the side of the abolition of slavery it remains to you to equalize the races before the law. What is abolition without equality? It remains to you to decide that the rebel States, before reentering. Pelitical franCongress, should chises in all respects should be enjoyed equally by blacks and whites. These guarantees obtained, open to them your arms and hasten toward a general reconciliation. Avoid any unnecessary prolongation of the present interregnum, (régime exceptionnel.) Add to your other glories that of reestablishing the power of your Government at the immediate close of a bitter civil war. Liberty is bold and strong; and of what use are her boldness and strength if she cannot trust and pardon?
abolish all distinctions based on c
It is repugnant to us to conceive your stopping half way, and conferring upon the former slaves liberty without equality, or, in other words, liberty without the conditions of freedom; liberty without dignity; liberty with an unopened future, without possible progress; liberty without that upon which it becomes great and attains its end; thus you would reconstitute a new slave party in Congress-further oppressions of slaves throughout the South. Seeking for peace you would reorganize war-servile war at first, for you cannot pronounce with impunity the words E FREE; and when those whom you have declared free feel that they have neither protection nor rights, nor means of regular action, they are almost infal39TH CONG. 1ST SESS.-No. 176.
libly driven to employ other means. Civil war would follow. Is it possible that the blood of the blacks shed on the other side of the Potomac, that cruel oppressions, would not speed that war, and that the generous instincts of the North would not reawaken? They would complain, they would denounce iniquities, they would intervene morally, and the ancient quarrel would blaze forth again. As faithful friends we have better hopes for you. We have said much, convinced that you will easily perceive that there is a warm sympathy in the depths of our fears, and that our sincerity is strengthened by respect and by attachment.
May He who has guarded you and protected you thus far continue to guard and protect you to the end; that He may empower you to finish what you have begun to treat as fellow-citizens and to love as brothers those who, thanks to you, are no longer in slavery; and that He may accomplish for you now and hereafter all those good wishes with which our hearts are filled.
J. H. SERMENT, and others, for Geneva. ADOLPH CHRIST, and others, for Bâle. ROBERT LISSOT, and others, for Neufchatel. F. BIANCHETTI, and others, for Tessin. BERNARD. and others, for Berne. M. BECHET, for the Canton De Vaud. GENEVA, April 10, 1866.
Mr. STEWART. How truthful the remark that "unfinished questions have no pity for the repose of mankind." While four million blacks are struggling for the ballot as the only protection known in republican Governments for life, liberty, and property; while the military arm of this Government is outstretched to enforce disfranchisement of rebels and restrain them from warring upon the life of the nation and the rights of the disfranchised blacks, gentlemen may cry, "Peace! peace!" but there is no peace.
"For freedom's battle, once begun,
The contest may be lost for years if left unsettled now, but there can be no repose for this country until the principles of the Declaration of Independence are fully acknowledged and practically enforced from ocean to ocean, from the Gulf to the Lakes.
I have often heard the appeal of earnest men in this great contest, and have too often hesitated at what seemed impractical or impossible, but before I could realize the grandeur of the design the work was accomplished. I hear the same warning voice of zealous reformers and earnest republicans proclaiming the simple truths of equal rights and generous amnesty and as in the past the dark night of slavery and human bondage disappeared before the sunlight of humanity and justice, so in the future the clouds of prejudice and passion which envelope the rights of millions of American citizens will dissipate before the reason and patriotism of the loyal masses of the people.
What guarantees shall be demanded on the restoration of the South, and by what right do we demand guarantees? In proceeding to this branch of my subject I find my own views so well expressed in an able paper from the pen of Robert Dale Owen that I avail myself of his forcible language:
"To the Editor of the Chronicle:
I take exception, in these days, to no contrarieties of opinion touching the proper mode of restoring harmony between the late belligerent sections of our country. That is a problem which may tax the best energies of the wisest among us, and in regard to the solution of which the ablest may differ. But if the task before us is difficult, it is not hopeless; not, I firmly believe, doubtful even. I have faith in the people. I have faith, stronger still, that God, who forsook us not in the gloom of the rebellion, will guide us now, when the scene of combat is changed from the field of battle to the election precinct and the legislative hall.
"The essential is, that we approach this great subject in a fitting spirit. It avails nothing to talk about the enormity of secession and the condign punishment it merits. The punishment of nations is in other hands than ours. If thejudgments of God have not already stamped slavery as a sin and treason against a beneficent Government as a crime, in vain are the efforts of man in that direction.
"Nor let us, in our indignation, forget how that sin of slavery, the cause of the rebellion, originally came upon the South; against her own will; against her solemn protest. In December, 1770, the King of Great Britain commanded the Governor of Virginia, 'under pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law prohibiting the importation of slaves.' Virginia, in April, 1772, addressed the King in remonstrance, saying to him these remarkable words: The importation of slaves, a trade of great inhumanity, will endanger the very existence of your Majesty's American dominions.' Maryland and Carolina followed that lead.
"But aside from this, what so unphilosophical and unjust as the spirit of the Pharisee? It is due to a geographical accident that we were not born slaveholders in the city of Charleston. Dare we assert that if we had been we should have been juster men than they, more scrupulous about living by the labor of others? Shall we stand up, in the temple of our own self-righteousness, and say, 'God, we thank thee that we are not as other men, or even as these South Carolinians?'
"We can never, indeed, forget-God forbid that we should-the terrible consequences of treason; the hardships, the sufferings, the lost lives, the parents and widows bereaved, the countless thousands of homes made desolate among us. But to avert evils in the future better befits a Christian people than to avenge injuries of the past. Let us learn of the despised and the lowly. Is it we only who have injuries to requite? What were our sufferings during the war compared to the thousand wrongs perpetrated, throughout generations, against the millions of southern slaves? But though the iron entered into their souls, did they return evil for evil? Did they forget, when the day of liberation dawned, the words of the text, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord?'
"If there be among our people a revengeful element, let us not pander to it. If we impose conditions before we restore political rights to those who, defying law and Constitution by force of arms, became public enemies, it ought to be in defense, not in requital.
If we impose conditions.' To a dispassionate looker-on it inust seem strange that, here in the North, that should be a question at all. At the close of a four years' embittered war-producing a radical change in the legal and social condition of four million people, creating two vast antagonistic public debts, and entailing a thousand diversities of interest between millions on one side and millions on the other-it would be a thing incredible that government could be properly or safely resumed, without stipulation or precaution, as if nothing had happened. At such a juncture in our national affairs wise precautionary measures are as strictly a dictate of duty as they are clearly a matter of right."
"To us, and not to the unjust aggressor' who appealed to the wager of battle and lost, belongs, at this time, the right to decide what guarantees are needed for the public safety, and how that unjust aggressor' shall be rendered incapable of doing mischief with the same ease in future.' Dearly we paid for that right! We shall commit a folly unparalleled in the annals of nations if we neglect to use it.
"But if all things are lawful for us, all things are not expedient. Thus, though due time must be taken for the maturing and consummation of precautionary measures, yet, on the other hand, one section of a Republic containing a fourth of its inhabitants cannot, except for a season, safely be shut out from Federal representation. Therefore the political rights of the States lately in insurrection should be restored to them at the earliest day consistently with the peace and safety of the country.
"The dangers attendant on unconditional restoration, which threaten that peace and safety, seem to me three in number; two of a political, the other of a financial character."
I concur with Mr. Owen that the dangers to be apprehended are three in number: two political and one financial. But I classify them thus: the political dangers are, first, immediate and absolute control of the several southern State governments by persons still hostile to the Union; and second, the increased representation in Congress of the disloyal elements of the South. The first is by far the greater evil, but for it the report of the committee furnishes no remedy whatever. The second and the lesser evil is but partially provided for. It is not proposed to eradicate the evil, but if pos sible to diminish its extent by a small reduction of representation in the other House. I very much fear that this will rather intensify the rebel elements than induce an extension of suffrage. While the franchise is restricted to the whites the rebels will be sure of a full voice in the Senate and a united (though a reduced) vote in the House and complete control of their several State governments. The danger of a division of this immense power by the extension of suffrage would more than counterbalance the loss in the other House. They would submit to this small loss of power and attempt to obtain satisfaction therefor in a more unlinited control over the destinies of the race we have attempted to liberate. I doubt very much whether this change will benefit the black man. It relieves him from misrepresentation in Congress by denying him any representation what
The financial danger, so far as it depends upon an assumption or payment of the rebel debt or compensation for emancipated slaves, is properly guarded against in the fourth section But the further and greater of the report.
financial danger which threatens our national credit grows out of the political dangers which I have mentioned. The commotions and agitations, and perchance civil wars, growing out of the unsettled political questions will disturb our financial system more than the rebels could possibly do by any efforts they might make to saddle upon a loyal people a debt incurred in the interest of slavery and secession. There are but two possible modes of escape from the political dangers which menace the peace and prosperity of our country. The first is disfranchisement of rebels by military power, for it can be done in no other way. To this ĺ am opposed, because it violates the democratic principle and is utterly repugnant to free institutions; because it is against Christianity and humanity; because it is the usual and direct road to despotism; because it has been often tried, and its fruits have been in all ages, in all times, and in all countries, the bitter dregs of slavery, tyranny, human misery, and wretchedness; and because it must inevitably result in the destruction of the Union and the liberty of the people. The second is enfranchisement of the blacks. The trying times which Mr. Lincoln thought might come when the colored man could help to keep the jewel of liberty in the family of freedom" are upon us. Two fifths of the people of the eleven States are colored, and are instinctively loyal and real friends of the Government. This two fifths was a great drawback upon secession, and after the emancipation proclamation, in spite of all efforts to deceive the blacks, they felt that the Government was their friend, and although they may have done very little effective fighting, still they aided us and injured the enemy in a thousand ways: by giving information, by kindness to prisoners, by the moral effect of enemies at home upon the cause of secession, and by the subtraction of their labor from the rebels and adding it to the resources of the Government.
After this proclamation the South became a house divided against itself, and the work of tearing down was half accomplished. Suppose to-day the South were united against the Government, and we became involved in a war with Great Britain or France, would we not expect a fearful struggle? But suppose we had two fifths of the people in the South as our friends, would we not regard that fact as a great acquisition of strength? Who can say that an emergency of this kind may never happen when we will need friends in the South as we did during the late war? And remember that the blacks are now free and capable of being more useful friends than they were as slaves. Suppose in settling with our enemies we should make no effectual provisions for the safety of our friends, but turn these State governments over to the late rebels, our friends would be at the mercy of our enemies and compelled to make terms. Would it be impossible, in that event, for our late enemies to convince our late friends that our friendship after all was of little value? And might not the act of emancipation be regarded by the blacks as a snare and a delusion rather than a blessing? Deserted by all the world, surrounded by their enemies, without means of self-protection, might they not under such circumstances sink in despair and relapse into a hopeless state of wretchedness and misery, awaiting in silence their fate of extermination, prepared for them according to the predictions of the late slaveholders? After all this might not the Union soldier in another war for liberty look in vain for the trusted black friend whom he found ministering to his wants in the darkest hours of the late rebellion?
But aside from their usefulness to us in aiding to sustain the Government, dare we offend a just God by failing to redeem the solemn pledge of liberty which this nation made to the slave? Has not the late war proved a sufficient warning that nations are punished for wrong and oppression and for disregarding human rights? But you still insist the negro is ignorant and ought not to vote. Are not
many of the whites also ignorant? This argument proves too much, and if practically put in force so as to exclude all ignorant men, both North and South, the reduction would be too great. But if you allow, as you must, ignorant men who are disloyal to vote, why not let ignorant loyal men vote? All that the friends of suffrage ask is, that the black should vote upon a like educational, property, and moral qualification with the white. Let the States place the standard where they will, provided à majority are not disfranchised and a government not republican set up in violation of the Constitution; but let it be impartial. We go even further, and, not wishing to disfranchise any who now vote, we propose to relieve them from restrictive qualifications which may hereafter be imposed on voters, but we insist that the ballot shall be placed within the reach of every American citizen of whatever race or color. Place any safeguards you please on the ballot, but make them impartial, and we will take the chances for the negro.
Does any one suppose that the Senators and Representatives from South Carolina would not soon have a loyal constituency if the ballot were within reach of the black man? In that State over one half of the people would be a solid column (a black column, if you please,) of loyalty. Does any one doubt that there would be whites enough to join them to obtain control of the State? Suppose those who join them are mere politicians, and they go with the negroes for office and spoils, would it be the first political combination formed for that purpose, and would not those who should obtain office and power by such means be compelled to respect the loyal sentiments of their constituents in order to retain power; and would not the ordinary desire of the politician to serve his friends prompt him to make equal laws and sustain the Union? The more this question is considered the plainer it becomes. I like a platform of principles which will bear examination and investigation. The simple fact is, give the people the ballot and the rulers are their servants, withhold it and the people exist at the will and sufferance of their rulers, and this rule applies South as well as North. Suppose you should withhold the ballot from the laboring classes of the North and allow capital to legislate for labor, aristocracy to make laws for democracy, how many civil rights bills and Freedmen's Bureaus would it require to secure freedom to the masses of the people and make them contented and happy?
But let Senators be warned by the grand demonstrations of the people in favor of these measures of protection for the blacks. Let this voice be understood. What does it mean? Is it difficult of interpretation? Not at all. It means that the blacks shall be free and that Congress shall demand full and complete securities for their freedom. In less than six months every Union man will see that there is no protection, no freedom, for the blacks without the ballot, and the universal sentiment of the loyal masses will demand the enfranchisement of the oppressed race. This is security for the future, self-supporting and selfsustaining security. It permits every man to protect himself, and his own self-interest will prompt him to do it well. It will not impoverish your Treasury and burden you with taxation. It will not consolidate your Government and destroy the legitimate functions of the States; but it will strengthen the foundations of the Republic and enlarge the base and prepare it for the grand superstructure which the builders of our institutions designed when they proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence the equality of every man in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the perfect equality of every man to strive to equal and to strive to excel his neighbor in everything great, good, and useful.
bor in great flow the leaders of the rebellion to return to Congress to insult the loyal North with their odious presence in the councils of the nation, there to plot treason and revile loyalty? I answer, no. I would take
the proper measures to prevent it. I would chain them to the ballot of the loyal blacks, and hold them in the strong grasp of a loyal people. They will not send them here. You may frame all the exclusion bills you please, but if you exclude loyalty from the ballot-box, and allow none but rebels with a small por tion of loyal whites to vote, disloyalty will find expression in your national Legislature in the persons of lower and meaner men than the intellectual chieftains of the rebellion. The desire to exclude a few from office as an excep tion or an expression of a sentiment can ac complish no great good. It is not worth serious consideration. It is like disputing about an old whip in a negotiation for a first-class six-horse team. Exclusion from the franchise and office is idle. It is too difficult to accom. plish, and no good results can possibly follow. We do not wish to punish the South. It has already been sufficiently scourged and humiliated by the inevitable results of a bloody war. The avenging hand of Providence has desolated and devastated their land and smitten down the first-born in every household, and if they will now let the bondmen depart from oppres sion in peace, with the ballot as their shield and buckler, why should we demand further vengeance? "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord."
I will not attempt a description of the horrors of the civil war brought upon the South by the crime of slavery and the conspiracy for its perpetuation. In the language of Burke, "A storm of universal fire blasted every field, consumed every house, destroyed every temple." The furnaces of retribution for the sins of the people were heated seven times hotter than they were wont to be heated, and the vials of wrath were poured out in torrents on the heads of the conspirators, consuming slavery and destroying treason. Are we not satisfied? Cruel slavery and foul treason shall be no more in America unless we revive and resuscitate the former by disfranchisement and oppressions until it breed new treason to be expiated upon our children with more terrible vengeance than the sins of the fathers have brought upon us. It is no time for crimination and recrimination. This war was not the work of man but of God. Let the North mourn her dead heroes sacrificed in the cause of liberty and humanity, the noblest cause in which man can die. Let the South mourn her dead sacrificed for the crime of slavery, and let her respect the sacrifice and go and sin no more. Let the vengeance of man be stayed. The visitations of destruction and punishment are beyond our comprehension or control. Let not our small individual wrongs and personal prejudices, too insignificant for consideration when we contemplate the grand dispensations of Providence, delay us, or stand as barriers to the consummation of the great work of enfranchisement and liberty. I proclaim as the true platform of principles, which shall survive this Congress and the present age and serve as a landmark for the future, Peace and good-will toward all men;" liberty and union; impar tial suffrage and universal amnesty.
I appeal to every Union man to declare his faith and stand by his principles; deal honestly with himself and frankly with the South. It is time they understood the full extent of our demands. The opponents of equal rights never argue the wright or wrong of impartial suffrage. They assume that it is a great political crime and then argue that the Union party is committed to it. If we join issue with them of this point we must fail, for we are committed to it, and they can prove it. Upon that issue we must lose before the people. But suppose admit what is true and cannot be denied, and justify our conduct by declaring that we are in favor of impartial suffrage because it is right, and ask our opponents, do you object? If so, why? Dare you deny protection to the friends of the Union while you demand political rights for its enemies? Dare you say that a Union soldier shall not vote, but a rebel soldier shall? Dare you say that he who fed our starving