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WHERE WILL THE REBELLION LEAVE US ?
66 The United States are bounded, ence. As a people, we have always been North, by the British Possessions; South, extremely tolerant of theories, however by the Gulf of Mexico; East, by the At- absurd. There is hardly a doctrine of lantic Ocean; and West, by the Pacific.” constitutional law so clear and well setSo the school-books told us which we stud- tled, that it is not, from time to time, disied in our childhood; and so, in every cussed and disputed among us. But when school throughout the land, the children it comes to reducing mischievous specuare taught to-day. The armed hosts whose lations to practice, the case is altered, tread resounds through the Continent are and the practical genius of the people marching Southward to teach this simple begins to manifest itself. Thus, the Kenlesson in geography. They all know it tucky and Virginia Resolutions of '98 and by heart. “ This they are ready to veri
'99 declared the Federal Constitution to fy,” as the lawyers say. Wherever, in be merely a compact between sovereign any benighted region, this elementary States, created for a special and limited proposition shall be henceforth denied or purpose; and that each party to the comdoubted, schools for adults are to be es- pact was the exclusive and final judge for tablished, and the needful instruction give itself of the construction of the contract, en. By regiments, battalions, and brig- with a right to determine for itself when ades, with all necessary apparatus, the it was violated, and the measure and teachers go forth to their work. The mode of redress. As a theory, this docproposition is a very simple one, easily trine has been very extensively acceptexpressed and easily understood; but it ed. Great parties have adopted it as tells the whole story. It is the substance their platform, and elections have been of all men's thoughts, and of all men's carried upon it. Its value as a support speech. Mr. Lincoln states it in his in- to the dignity and self-importance of loaugural. Mr. Douglas impresses it up- cal politicians was readily apprehended on the Illinois legislature. Mr. Seward by them; and it was in perfect harmony announces it, briefly and with emphasis, with the tone of bluster which pervaded to the governments of Europe. Senti- our politics. The thorough refutation mental talk about “our country, however which it always encountered, whenever bounded,” is obsolete; and how the coun- it was seriously considered, never seemed try is bounded is now the point to be set- to do its popularity any harm. In truth, tled, once and forever.
" This territory,
mere vaporing hurt nobody, and caused from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, be- no great alarm. But when the Hartford longs to the people of the United States, Convention was suspected of covering a | and they mean to hold and keep it. We little actual heat under the smoke of the shall neither alter our school-books nor customary resolutions and protests, a buckrevise our maps.” So say the American et of cold water was thrown over it. When, people, rising in their wrath.
in 1832, South Carolina developed a spark The practical question with which Mr. of real fire, the nation put its foot on it. Lincoln's administration had to deal in And now, when the torch of rebellion has the first place was, Whether a popular been circulating among very inflammable government is strong enough to suppress materials, until a serious conflagration is a military rebellion ? And that may be threatened, the instinct of self-preservaregarded as already settled. But the tion has roused the energies of the whole grounds upon which that rebellion is people for its immediate, complete, and justified involve the vital facts of na- final extinction. tional unity, and even of national exist- The present insurrection has been so
long meditated, the approaches to its final insulting. But it is time that this whole consummation have been so steadily made, pernicious dialect should be exploded, and the schemes of the principal traitors and the ideas which it represents be have been so well planned and carefully eradicated from the minds of intelligent matured, that they have almost succeed- men everywhere. ed in making the vocabulary of treason The right of revolution it is needless to a part of the vernacular of the country. discuss. Resistance, in any practicable We all talk of the States which have se- method, to intolerable oppression, is the ceded or are going to secede, -of a fratri- natural right of every human being, and cidal war, -of the measures which this or of course of every community. But such the other State is determined or likely to a right is never included in the frameadopt; and a great deal has been said work of organized civil society. From about State sovereignty, and coercion of a its nature, it can form no part of a plan State, and the invasion of the soil of one of government. The only formula which State and another. There has been large embraces it is the famous one of “Mondiscussion in times past of the danger of a archy tempered by Regicide"; and where dissolution of the Union. Indeed, this dan. that prevails, it seems to be adopted as ger has been so often held up as a threat a practical expedient, rather than recby one section, and so persistently used as ognized as an established constitutional a scarecrow by timid or profligate men in maxim. But as a question of revolution the other, that it has become one of the the issue is not presented. If it were, it commonplaces of political contests. Our would be easy to deal with. The only ears have hardly ceased to be tormented embarrassment in our present condition, with projects of reconstruction, and with so far as reasoning goes, arises from consuggestions of guaranties, and pacifica- fused notions of constitutional law, and tions, and mediation, and neutrality, arm- the inaccuracy of language which necesed or otherwise. Border-State Conven- sarily attends them. In order, therefore, tions are projected, and well-meaning to know what is before us, let us first see governors have been arranging interviews where we stand. or conducting correspondence with gov- The London “ Times” informs the peoernors who talked of Southern rights, and ple of England, that “the resolution of undertook to say what their States would the North to crush Secession by force inor would not permit the United States volves a denial of the right of each one Government to do. Even a Cabinet offi- of the seceding States to determine the cer, of whom better things might have conditions of its own national existence." been expected, and by whom better Precisely so. It involves all that; but things are now nobly said and done, al- the whole fact comprehends a great deal lowed himself to fall into the error of more. Not one of the States of the Amerexplaining to the vacillating Governor ican Union has any national existence, of Maryland that the intentions of the or ever had any, in the sense in which National Administration were purely de- the “Times” uses the phrase. Not one fensive. While such language is current of them has any of the functions or qualat home, it is not strange that foreigners ities of a nation. In the case of the greatshould find themselves in a state of hope- er part of the States in which the rebelless confusion about us. Few European lion exists, the United States bought and writers, except De Tocqueville, have paid for the territory which they occupy, ever shown a clear comprehension of made States of them under its own Conour political system ; and the speeches stitution and laws, upon certain condiof British statesmen on American af- tions made irrevocable by the act which fairs are perhaps rather to be account- created them, and reserved the forts, arseed for and excused from want of in- nals, and custom-houses which their treaformation, than resented as hostile or sonable citizens have since undertaken to
steal. The fundamental idea of the Amer- The State may be overrun by armed inican system is local self-government for surgents, resisting the Federal authority; local purposes, and national unity for but so it might be by a foreign army. national purposes. Our national union The peaceful citizens, who remain faithis synonymous with our national exist- ful to their constitutional obligations, are ence. When we speak of sovereign and entitled to the aid of the national power independent States, the phrase has no to suppress domestic insurrection, whatother just meaning than that each State ever proportions that insurrection may is independent of every other in all mat- me. The soldiers of the United States, ters exclusively appertaining to its own lawfully mustered to resist invasion or powers and duties, and sovereign upon put down rebellion, have nothing to do all subjects which have not been com- with State lines, and act in perfect harmitted exclusively to the jurisdiction of mony with all legitimate State action. the Federal Government. Any encroach. They can no more invade a State than ment by the Government of the United if they were in it to resist a foreign States upon the lawful jurisdiction of the enemy, or than a United States marseveral States would be resisted as a shal invades it when he goes to arrest usurpation ; but the “reserved rights” a counterfeiter. The “Times” would of the States, ex vi termini, cannot in- have little difficulty in understanding a clude
any of the attributes of power which denial of the right of the Isle of Man, the people of the whole country have or of Lancashire, or of Ireland, “ to deconferred upon the Union. But further, termine the conditions of its own nation— and this is a point of great practical im- al existence.” portance, — the Federal Government has There is another fallacy in speaking no relation to the several States as States, of the resolution of the North to crush and they have no relations to it, or to Secession by force. It is the resolution each other, except so far as these rela- of the nation,- of all that is faithful and tions are expressly defined and specified loyal in it, wherever found. The people in the National Constitution. Beyond of the Southern States have not had any these, the authority and jurisdiction of the fair opportunity to express their opinions. nation address themselves and are applied The military usurpers have allowed nothto the individual citizens of all the States ing to be submitted to the test of a popualike. “ The king can do no wrong,” is lar vote, except where they were able to the maxim of English law. A State of take such measures of precaution, in the the American Union cannot secede, or way of hanging, confiscation, banishment, commit treason, or make war upon the disarming opponents, and the presence United States. So the United States of an armed force which should overcannot, and do not, make war upon any awe dissenters, as might secure the unaState. Virginia, for all national purpos- nimity they desired. There is undoubtes, belongs to the United States, -exactly edly much more loyalty in the Northas it belongs to the State, for the purpos
ern than in the Southern States of the es of local administration. In theory, and Union, as there is less of passion, and in practice, the State of Virginia is at more of intelligence and principle, this moment a peaceful and faithful mem- although treason has, till very lately, ber of the American Union. Her Sena- found more than enough apologists or tors and Representatives, except so far abettors even in the Free States. But as individuals among them may have dis- the spirit which now actuates our peoqualified themselves by resignation, or ple has little that is sectional in it, and what may be held to be equivalent, by the principles at issue have the same deserting their posts to array themselves application to Maine that they have to in active hostility to their country, are
Florida. still entitled to their seats in Congress. When we ask, then, where this rebellion will leave us, and what will be the mints and custom-houses,- when we have condition of the United States when the visited their leaders with retributive jusauthority of the Government has been tice, and made Richmond and Charlesvindicated and reëstablished, the answer ton and New Orleans as submissive to must be sought in the considerations al- lawful authority as Baltimore or Washready suggested. The rebellion cannot ington or Boston, — what then? Will be ended, until we have settled as a prin- a people we have subjugated ever live ciple of constitutional law for our own with us again on terms of equality and citizens, and as a fact of which all other friendship? Can the wounded pride of nations must take notice, that this whole the Ancient Dominion be so far soothed country belongs to the people of the that she can allow us again to bask in United States. No foreign power
shall the sunshine of her favor? Will she evpossess a foot of it. If the majority of the er consent to resume her old superioripeople of a State can throw off their al- ty, and furnish our audacious army and legiance to the Union, they can transfer navy with officers, our committees with their allegiance to England or Spain at chairmen, and our departments with their pleasure, as well as to a new con- clerks? Or must we, for a generation, federacy of their own devising. The hold the States we have subdued by milbattles of the Revolution which secured itary occupation ? Must we make Terriour independence were fought by the tories of them, and blot out those maligwhole country, and for the whole coun- nant stars from our glorious and triumtry, without reference to local majorities. phant banner ? The accessions to our territory were made In all seriousness, there seems but one by the nation as a unit, and belong to it solution to the problem; and it must be as such.
We did not acquire Texas, found, if at all, in the proposition already and pay the millions of its debt, with the stated, that treason is an individual act. reservation that it might sell itself again A State cannot rebel, as it cannot secede. the next day to the highest bidder. That A governor of a State may rebel, and a no foreign dominion shall interpose be- majority of a legislature may join an intween the Northwest and the Atlantic, surrection, as a governor or legislators or between the Valley of the Mississip- may commit larceny or join a piratical pi and the Gulf, is a geographical ne- expedition. But whoever arrays himself cessity. But that the American Union in armed opposition to the Government is indissoluble is essential to our na- of the United States, or gives aid and tional existence. If that be not so, we comfort to its enemies, becomes thereby have neither a flag nor a country, merely a private rebel and traitor. Whatwe can neither contract a debt nor ever office he may fill, with whatever make a treaty, - we have neither hon- functions of local government he may or abroad nor strength at home, - our be intrusted, by whatever name he may experiment of free government is a blun- be called, governor or judge, senator or der and a failure,— and for us, “ Chaos representative, it is the treason of the citihas come again."
zen, and not of the officer. And as a But the further question remains, In State has no legal existence except as what way is it possible that harmony a member of the Union, and has no conshall be restored between the parts of stitutional powers or functions or capacithe country through which the rebellion ties but those which it exercises in harhas spread and those which have remain- mony with and subordination to the righted faithful to the Constitution and the ful authority of the Federal Government, Union ? When we have dispersed the so the loyal and faithful inhabitants of a armies of the rebels, and demolished their State, and they only, constitute the State. batteries, and retaken our forts and ar- Mr. Mason tells the people of Virginia, senals, our navy-yards and armories, our that those of them who, in their consciences, cannot vote to separate Virginia so large a scale was not contemplated, from the United States, if they retain nor was a remedy furnished for it, in their such opinions, must leave the State. We frame of government. It is merely a case thank him for teaching us that word. not provided for, and the omission must When the tables are turned, it will form be supplied in the most practicable way. a valuable theme for his private medita- The new organization should and undoubttion. The unconditional Union men, who edly would be recognized by the National are of and for their country against all Government, and by the other States, as, comers, who neither commit treason open- de facto and de jure, the State. It was ly nor disguise their cowardly treachery settled in the Rhode Island case, under under the shallow cover of neutrality, Tyler's administration, that, where differare to wield the power of their respec- ent portions of the people claim to hold tive States, and to be the only recognized and exercise the powers of a State govinhabitants. All others must submit or ernment, it presents a political question fly. If the Governor and Legislature of
which the National Executive and ConVirginia have renounced their allegiance gress must decide ; and that judicial recto the United States, and undertaken to ognition must follow and conform to the establish a foreign jurisdiction in a por- political decision. tion of our territory, their relation to that When, by such a course, the proper reState becomes substantially the same as
lations and functions of each State should if they had gone on board a British fleet be resumed, there would no longer be any in the Chesapeake, or enlisted under the matter of State pride to interfere with the standard of an invading army. They absolute assertion of national authority. have abdicated their offices, which there- The new State governments would be proby become vacant. It was for “having tected against armed assailants at home endeavored to subvert the constitution and invasion from abroad ; they would apof the kingdom by breaking the original ply for and obtain assistance to suppress contract between king and people, vio- domestic insurrection ; every misguided lated the fundamental laws, and having insurgent would have opportunity to rewithdrawn himself out of the kingilom,” turn to his duty under the protection of that James II. was declared by the House his own local authorities; appropriations of Commons to have abdicated the gov- for the army and navy could be passed ernment. Would it have been less an with the aid of Tennessee and Alabama abdication, if he had remained within the votes in Congress; and Davis, and Tyler, realm, and attempted to hold it as the and Mason be hung upon the verdict of viceroy of France ? When, in June, a jury of the vicinage. 1775, Governor Dunmore and his Coun- In Virginia, a movement based upon cil took refuge on board a British man- this principle has been alreadly inauguof-war, the Virginians of that day pro- rated. From Western Virginia, the progceeded to meet in convention, and pro- ress toward Eastern Tennessee and Northvide new officers to manage the affairs ern Alabama is natural and certain. The of their State. Let this historical prece- worst case to deal with, unquestionably, dent be followed now. Wherever, in ei- is South Carolina Hers is a peculiar ther of the States which the rebels have people, and zealous, though scarcely of sought to appropriate, the loyal citizens good works. That fiery little Commoncan find a spot in which they can meet wealth is remarkably constituted. The in safety, let them meet by their delegates State is inhabited principally by negroes; in convention, and adopt the necessary and the remaining minority may be dividmeasures to elect new officers under their ed into two classes, - whites who are depresent constitutions. The only irregu- pendent upon negroes for a subsistence, larity will be what results from the fact and whites whose chief distinction in life that treason in such high places and on and great consolation is that they are not