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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, June 16, 1868.
Governor of the State of
nexed. Thereupon the Secretary of State, upon
WILLIAM H. Seward. Department of STATE, June 20, 1866.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit an attested copy of a resolution of Congress, proposing to the legislatures of the several States a fourteenth article to the Constitution of the United States. The decisions of the several legislatures upon the subject are required by law to be communicated to this Department. An acknowledgment of the receipt of this communication is requested by Your excellency's most obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
MAJORITY AND MINORITY REPORTS
JOINT COMMITTEE ON RECONSTRUCTION.
The Majority Report.
June 18, 1866-Mr. FESSENDEN in the Senate, and Mr. STEVENS in the House, submitted this
That they have attended to the duty assigned them as assiduously as other duties would permit, and now submit to Congress, as the result of their deliberations, a resolution proposing amendments to the Constitution, and two bills, of which they recommend the adoption.
States were left at the close of the war; the measures which have been taken towards the 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 administration of national affairs.
As to their condition at the close of the rebel
The Joint Committee of the two Houses of Congress, appointed under the concurrent resolution of December 13, 1865, with direction to "in-lion, the evidence is open to all, and admits of no dispute. They were in a state of utter exquire into the condition of the States which haustion. Having protracted their struggle formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether they or any of against federal authority until all hope of sucthem are entitled to be represented in either cessful resistance had ceased, and laid down their 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 shorn of the private wealth which had before given them power and influence. They were also necessarily in a state of complete anarchy, without governments and without the power to frame governments except by the permission of those who had been successful in the war. President of the United States, in the proclamations under which he appointed provisional governors, and in his various communications to them, has, in exact terms, recognized the fact that the people of those States were, when the rebellion was crushed, "deprived of all civil government," and must proceed to organize anew. In his conversation with Mr. Stearns, of Massachusetts, certified by himself, President Johnson said "the State institutions are prostrated, laid out on the ground, and they must be taken up and adapted to the progress of events." Finding the Southern States in this condition, and Congress having failed to provide for the contingency, his duty was obvious. As President of the United States he had no power, ex
Before proceeding to set forth in detail their reasons for the conclusion to which, after great deliberation, your committee have arrived, they beg leave to advert, briefly, to the course of proceedings they found it necessary to adopt, and to explain the reasons therefor.
The resolution under which your committee was appointed directed them to inquire into the condition of the Confederate States, and report whether they were entitled to representation in Congress. It is obvious that such an investigation, covering so large an extent of territory and involving so many important considerations, must necessarily require no trifling labor, and consume a very considerable amount of time. It must embrace the condition in which those
cept to execute the laws of the land as Chief | erly 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 inconConstitution 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- cannot, therefore, regard the various acts of the presses it, "deprived of all civil government." President in relation to the formation of local governments in the insurrectionary States, and the conditions imposed by him upon their action, in any other light than as intimations to the people that, as commander-in-chief of the army, he would consent to withdraw military rule just in proportion as they should, by their acts, manifest a disposition to preserve order among themselves, establish governments denoting loyalty to the Union, and exhibit a settled determination to return to their allegiance, leaving with the law-making power to fix the terms of their final restoration to all their rights and privileges as States of the Union. That this was the view of his power taken by the President is evident from expressions to that effect in the communications of the Secretary of State to the various provis ional governors, and the repeated declarations of the President himself, Any other supposition inconsistent with this would impute to the President designs of encroachment upon a co-ordinate branch of the government, which should not be lightly attributed to the Chief Magistrate of the nation.
Under this state of affairs it was plainly the duty of the President to enforce existing national laws, and to establish, as far as he could, such a system of government as might be provided for by existing national statutes. As commanderin-chief of a victorious army, it was his duty, under the law of nations and the army regulations, to restore order, to preserve property, and to protect the people against violence from any quarter until provision should be made by law for their governinent. He might, as President, assemble Congress and submit the whole matter to the law-making power; or he might continue military supervision and control until Congress should assemble on its regular appointed day. Selecting the latter alternative, he proceeded, by virtue of his power as commander-in-chief, to appoint provisional governors over the revolted States. These were regularly commissioned, and their compensation was paid, as the Secretary of War states, "from the appropriation for army contingencies, because the duties performed by the parties were regarded as of a temporary 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 was for him to decide how far he would exercise it, how far he would relax it, when and on what terms he would withdraw it. He might prop
opinion of the President, or proceeded to obtain the information requisite for intelligent action on the subject. The impropriety of proceeding wholly on the judgment of any one man, how
nesses whose position had given them the best means of forming an accurate judgment, who could state facts from their own observation, and whose character and standing afforded the best evidence of their truthfulness and impartiality. A work like this, covering so large an extent of territory, and embracing such complicated and extensive inquiries, necessarily required much time and labor. To shorten the time as much as possible, the work was divided and placed in the hands of four sub-committees, who have been diligently employed in its accomplishment. The results of their labors have been heretofore submitted, and the country will judge how far they sustain the President's views, and how far they justify the conclusions to which your committee have finally arrived.
ever exalted his station, in a matter involving | could only be had to the examination of witthe welfare of the republic in all future time, or of adopting any plan, coming from any source, without fully understanding all its bearings and comprehending its full effect, was apparent. The first step, therefore, was to obtain the required information. A call was accordingly made on the President for the information in his possession as to what had been done, in order that Congress might judge for itself as to the grounds of the belief expressed by him in the fitness of States recently in rebellion to participate fully in the conduct of national affairs. This information was not immediately communicated. When the response was finally made, some six weeks after your committee had been in actual session, it was found that the evidence upon which the President seemed to have based his suggestions was incomplete and unsatisfactory. Authenticated copies of the new constitutions and ordinances adopted by the conventions in three of the States had been submitted, extracts from newspapers furnished scanty information as to the action of one other State, and nothing appears to have been communicated as to the remainder. There was no evidence of the loyalty of those who had participated in these conventions, and in one State alone was any proposition made to submit the action of the conventions to the final judgment of the people.
A claim for the immediate admission of Senators and Representatives from the so-called Confederate States has been urged, which seems to your committee not to be founded either in reason or in law, and which cannot be passed without comment. Stated in a few words, it amounts to this: That inasmuch as the lately insurgent States had no legal right to separate themselves from the Union, they still retain their positions as States, and consequently the people thereof have a right to immediate representation in Congress without the imposition of any conditions whatever; and further, that until such admission Congress has no right to tax them for the support of the Government. It has even been contended that until such admission all legislation affecting their interests is, if not unconstitutional, at least unjustifiable and oppressive.
It is believed by your committee that all these propositions are not only wholly untenable, but, if admitted, would tend to the destruction of the Government.
Failing to obtain the desired information, and left to grope for light wherever it might be found, your committee did not deem it either advisable or safe to adopt, without further examination, the suggestions of the President, more especially as he had not deemed it expedient to remove the military force, to suspend martial law, or to restore the writ of habeas corpus, but still thought it necessary to exercise over the people of the rebellious States his military power and jurisdiction. 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 allenotorious 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, dockder these circumstances, anything like hasty action would have been as dangerous as it was obviously unwise. It appeared to your committee that but one course remained, viz: to investigate carefully and thoroughly the state of feeling and opinion existing among the people of these States; to ascertain how far their pretended loyalty could be relied upon, and thence to infer whether it would be safe to admit them at once to a full participation in the Government they had fought for four years to destroy. It was an equally important inquiry whether their restoration to their former relations with the United States should only be granted upon certain conditions and guarantees which would effectually secure the nation against a recurrence of evils so disastrous as those from which it had escaped at so enormous a sacrifice.
To obtain the necessary information recourse
yards, and other public property within their borders, drove out from among them those who remained true to the Union, and heaped every imaginable insult and injury upon the United States and its citizens. Finally they opened hostilities, and levied war against the Government.
They continued this war for four years with the most determined and malignant spiric, killing in battle and otherwise large numbers of loyal people, destroying the property of loyal citizens on the sea and on the land, and entailing on the Government an enormous debt, incurred to sustain its rightful authority. Whether legally and constitutionally or not, they did, in fact, withdraw from the Union and made themselves subjects of another government of their own creation. And they only yielded when, after a long, bloody, and wasting war, they were compelled by utter 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 all their privileges within the Union, and espe the 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. To 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 dispute. What the nature of that security should be, what proof should be required of a return to allegiance, what time should elapse before a people thus demoralized should be restored in full to the enjoyment of political rights and privileges, are questions for the law-making power to decide, and that decision must depend on grave considerations of the public safety and the general welfare.
very nature and essence, because inconsistent with the theory of government, and fatal to its very existence.
On the contrary, we assert that no portion of the people of this country, whether in State or Territory, have the right, while remaining on its soil, to withdraw from or reject the authority of the United States. They must obey its laws as paramount, and acknowledge its jurisdiction. They have no right to secede; and while they can destroy their State governments, and place themselves beyond the pale of the Union, so far as the exercise of State privileges is concerned, they cannot escape the obligations imposed upor them by the Constitution and the laws, nor inpair the exercise of national authority. The Constitution, it will be observed, does not act upon States, as such, but upon the people; while, therefore, the people cannot escape its authority, the States may, through the act of their people, cease to exist in an organized form, and thus dissolve their political relations with the United States.
It is moreover contended, and with apparent gravity, that, from the peculiar nature and character of our Government, no such right on the part of the conqueror can exist; that from the moment when rebellion lays down its arms and actual hostilities cease, all political rights of rebellious communities are at once restored; that, because the people of a State of the Union were once an organized community within the Union, they necessarily so remain, and their right to be represented in Congress at any and all times, and to participate in the government of the country under all circumstances, admits of 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 civil war, is a pastime which any State may play at, not only certain that it can lose nothing in any event, but may even be the gainer by defeat. If rebellion succeeds, it accomplishes its purpose and destroys the Government. If it fails, the war has been barren of results, and the battle may be still fought out in the legislative halls of the country. Treason, defeated in the field, has only to take possession of Congress and the cabinet.
but it is not true that taxation and representation must go together under all circumstances, and at every moment of time. The people of the District of Columbia and of the Territories are taxed, although not represented in Congress. If it is true that the people of the so-called Confedrate States had no right to throw off the authority of the United States, it is equally true that they are bound at all times to share the burdens of government. They cannot, either legally or equitably, refuse to bear their just proYour committee does not deem it either neces- portion of these burdens by voluntarily abdisary 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 many words have been wasted, it by no means follows that the people of those States may not place themselves in a condition to abrogate the powers and privileges incident to a State of the Union, and deprive themselves of all pretence of right to exercise those powers and enjoy those privileges. A State within the Union has obligations to discharge as a member of the Union. It must submit to federal laws and uphold fed
against national authority and levying war. To hold that by so doing they could escape taxation would be to offer a premium for insurrection, to reward instead of punishing for treason. To hold that as soon as government is restored to its full authority it can be allowed no time to secure itself against similar wrongs in the future, or else omit the ordinary exercise of its constitutional power to compel equal contribution from all towards the expenses of govern
ment, would be unreasonable in itself and unjust to the nation. It is sufficient to reply that the loss of representation by the people of the insurrectionary States was their own voluntary choice. They might abandon their privileges, but they could not escape their obligations; and surely they have no right to complain if, before resuming those privileges, and while the people of the United States are devising measures for the public safety, rendered necessary by the act of those who thus disiranchised themselves, they are compelled to contribute their just proportion of the general burden of taxation incurred by their wickedness and folly.
tation for all necessarily follows. As a consequence the inevitable effect of the rebellion would be to increase the political power of the insurrectionary States, whenever they should be allowed to resume their positions as States of the Union. As representation is by the Constitution based upon population, your committee did not think it advisable to recommend a change of that basis. The increase of representation necessarily resulting from the abolition of slavery was considered the most important element in the questions arising out of the changed condition of affairs, and the necessity 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 intheir 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. It did not seem just or proper that all the politi cal advantages derived from their becoming free should be confined to their former masters, who had fought against the Union, and withheld from themselves, who had always been loyal. Slavery, by building up a ruling and dominant class, had produced a spirit of oligarchy adverse to republican institutions, which finally inaugurated civil war. The tendency of continuing the domination of such a class, by leaving it in the exclusive possession of political power, would be to encourage the same spirit, and lead to a similar result. Doubts were entertained whether Congress had power, even under the amended Constitution, to prescribe the qualifications of voters in a State, or could act directly on the subject. It was doubtful, in the opinion of your committee, whether the States would consent to surrender a power they had always exercised, and to which they were attached. As the best, if not the only, method of surmounting the difficulty, and as eminently just and proper in itself, your committee came to the conclusion that poin-litical power should be possessed in all the States exactly in proportion as the right of suffrage should be granted, without distinction of color or race. This it was thought would leave the whole question with the people of each State, holding out to all the advantage of increased political power as an inducement to allow all to participate in its exercise. Such a provision would be in its nature gentle and persuasive, and would lead, it was hoped, at no distant day, to an equal participation of all, without distinction, in all the rights and privileges of citizenship, thus affording a full and adequate protection to all classes of citizens, since all would have, through the ballot-box, the power of selfprotection.
While thus exposing fallacies which, as your committee believe, are resorted to for the purpose of misleading the people and distracting their attention from the questions at issue, we freely admit that such a condition of things should be brought, if possible, to a speedy termination. It is most desirable that the Union of all the States should become perfect at the earliest moment consistent with the peace and welfare of the nation; that all these States should become fully represented in the national councils, and take their share in the legislation of the country. The possession and exercise of more than its just share of power by any section is injurious, as well to that section as to all others. Its tendency is distracting and demoralizing, and such a state of affairs is only to be tolerated on the ground of a necessary regard to the public Eafety. As soon as that safety is secured it should terminate.
Your committee came to the consideration of the subject referred to them with the most anxious desire to ascertain what was the condition of the people of the States recently in surrection, and what, if anything, was necessary to be done before restoring them to the full enjoyment of all their original privileges. It was undeniable that the war into which they had plunged the country had materially changed their relations to the people of the loyal States. Slavery had been abolished by constitutional amendment. A large proportion of the population had become, instead of mere chattels, free men and citizens. Through all the past struggle these had remained true and loyal, and had, in large numbers, fought on the side of the Union. It was impossible to abandon them without securing them their rights as free men and citizens. The whole civilized world would have cried out against such base ingratitude, and the bare idea is offensive to all right-thinking men. Hence it became important to inquire what could be done to secure their rights, civil and political. It was evident to your committee that adequate security could only be found in appropriate constitutional provisions. By an original provision of the Constitution, representation is based on the whole number of free persons in each State, and three-fifths of all other persons. When all become free, represen
Holding these views, your committee prepared an amendment to the Constitution to carry out this idea, and submitted the same to Congress. Unfortunately, as we think, it did not receive the necessary constitutional support in the Senate, and therefore could not be proposed for adoption by the States. The principle involved in that amendment is, however, believed to be sound, and your committee have again proposed it in another form, hoping that it may receive the approbation of Congress.