Press enter after choosing selection

The Michigan Legislature

The Michigan Legislature image
Parent Issue
Day
25
Month
January
Year
1861
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

In the Sena-ü, on Monday, the 14th. inst., Mr. Ingkbsoll, of the Committeo on Federal Kelations, submitted tho following mnjority report : That they had'upp'roached ths matter referred toihemina spirit of ihat devout love and veaerstioo for the opastituliun and governmont ot the Feder al Union wliiob has ever characteiized tho people of Michigan. No State in the bright galaxy which compose our common country has derived mora benefit as a people, or bas greater cause to reveré this system of go erntneut, so framed by the agaoity of our oarly stateamen as to leave to every State its own social and politioal indiv'duaüty, and yet unite the who!e in one grand confederaron, having a common diplomacv, a common system of customs, a common coinage, and u comnjon power of detense frpmi domestic violence or esternal aggression, though difforing widely irom each other, nol merely in geographical posición and natural produotions, butin social struoture and industrial pursuits. An experience of seventy-five years under the opurations of our oonatitutioD ha wedded us to this practical system of gcveintnent, and proved that nothing bul this vvise combiuation of Federal and State unity whieh the genius of its founders devised,and which their üúcoessor.s have faithfully developed, could have given free play to such an endluss variety of peculiar charaoteristics, and at the same time welded together into on consistent whole .such a multipücity of different and sometimos conflicting interests This benefit has been co equa] and co-oxtensive with the country; and vet, at a time of profound national prosperity, when the progress of the CInited Siaies of Amerioa has exeeeded the most extravagant anticipations. portions of the Confederacy, for real ar t'ancied grievancos, aiter vaunting threats for more than a quarter of a century, have met in conventions, under the sanctity of State auihorities, and solemnly declared themscives independent Powars, no longer owing allegiance to the governiiien'. oí the United States The committeo need not at this period discnss the cause of this rebellious conduct, nor would it be fitting the dignity of a prond and loyal State to proffer ëxplanations to a sisterhood that has taken up arms and is now in actual warfare with our common government. While we should evur be willing to coneiliate a complaiaing section ot our country, it is not for Michigan to corapn mise her principies r her honor in any amicabl appeal to traitora or rebels, oi' any other than such ia the dignity of outraged luw requires. To the Uuion-loving inembers of the Goofederacy, however, the Peninsular State siiould addreas bcrsali in tornis of fraternal regard, as due to íheir valor and un .verving patriotism ia íesistiiig the seductiva appuals of those who seek their estrangement and courttheir power as alliös in the perfidious rebetlioQ. Adriiiring tho loyalty und firmness of the Union-loving citizens and represen tfttives of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Teaaeasee, Missouri, and JNorth Carolina, who are furemoat in ?'e tsisting seeession, we should partiüular!y regard those States with that full consideration which their patriotism and self'-ac,rificing devotion demand. In the present oxigency, Michigan eau well be magnanimous, without any surrender of important rights, or 6acrifice of vital principie. The mere pride ot opinión is base selfishiK'-s, wliere a tatal embarrassinen! of' dovoted friends is the issue and uttor estrangement is the deplorable result. In this üght alone the cummittoe have acted under the solemu impression that Michigan has nodesire to impair any constitutional right of a sister State, and that, while sbe would throw aroun'l every citizen ot hor Commonwealth the strongest guarantees of protection and defence, aba has no disposition to refrain irorn the im ineditito modification of any law upon her statute book that may be founq to conflict with the constitution oí the United States or any law of Congrens in puisuance thereof. With the expression of these briof views a majority of the committee re port the accoinpanying resolutionsjback tothe Senate, and submit the following as a substituto thereíor, and recotnmend their adoption, " as common ground on which every citizen of Michigan and all parlies in the North may stard finnly and united, without the sacrifico of a single principie oí politioal right." JOINT BESOkUTIONS ON THE STATE Of THE UNION. Whereas, Tho acts of evil anti misguidod men who are seoking to destrov this government, as well us tho noble efibrts of patriotic citizers who are striving faithfully to avert such a wieked and calamitous issue, uüke renderit proper for the State of Michigan to oxpress her views upon this crisis, and to place upon recnr the position which she oceupiea as a State of this Union : By the Senate and House of Represe tatives of the State of Michigan : liesolved, That tho oonstitution of the United States, and all laws of Congre8 in pursuance thcreof, aresipreme in authority and ought to be obeyed. Resolved, That the Union provided for by that constitution was designed to be perpetual, and to secure the biessings of' liberty to tb people of these Unitt-d States iorevor. Itcsofitl, That no change in tho re lation of any State or portion of the country to the whole Union eau be made, or ought to be acquiesced in, except such changos as may be uanotionod under the constitution, or ornead monis made as provided theroiu ; and that all attempts to dislurb tho peace or integrity af the Union, in violation of that sacred charter cd our liherties, are treaconable and should not, bo tolerated. Besolotd, That üo State can absolve its citizous frorn tho aüegiance wbiob they owe to the United Stiltes, and that every at tempt by viuU'.nce to obstruct tho eieroÏM of. the power entrustod to the United States, or to seize the forts, arseoal, or other proportv of the United States, under protonse of Stalo aithoiity, witli iho des:gn of interfenrig with the soverign amliority of the Union, is an act of rebelüon, and should be resisted and Buppressftd. Resolved, That wc do hereby pledgo the power and resources of the State oí' Michigan to aid the United States in the muintenance of the integrity of the governinent, and the upholding of its authority agaiust uvery atUrapt to subvert it. Resolved, That we extend our cordial sy::ipa(hy amJ thankg to tho noble and patr.otio men Í0 civil or military stations, or as private citizuns, who have maniully resisted tho threats aod seduetions of ttiose who have endeavorod to destroy Ibis glorious Union, which is our eomtnon heritage ; and that we will aid them in upholding it for them and for their cliildren. Resolved, That we desire cheerfully and in good fttiífe to respect and obey every provisión of the constitution of the United States in t'ts integrity ; that we have never in tended or desired by any legislation upon our statute book, and do notnow ntend or desire to impedo or in any vvav interlere with the íaithíul eiecution of any clause in the constitutiou, or any law of Congress in pursuance thereof ; thatwewill curefuliy examine into our laws, and if there be any wbich inter fere with the duty which we oweto otber States or the eitizens thereof in any particular, we will reform tho same; as we desire to be lacking in no duty, and to share with all the law-abiding people of this land the friendly feeling and sympathy which will best. cement the Union and advanee the prosperity of our common country. Resolved, That tin Gfóvernof be requested to transinitauthenticated copies oí these resol utioni to our Senators and Representativos in Congress, and to the G-overnors of the aeveral States of this Union. Mr. Williams, from the gaine committee, submitted a series of resolutions as a minority report, differing materially in spirit from the above, and reflect ing the seutiinents of the ultra and fanatical portion of tho Republicaus. Both sets of resolutions were laid on the table, ordered printed, and made the special order for Wednesday, the lGth, at 2 o'elook, P. M. At the appointed hour on Wednesday, the Senate went into committoe of the whole, on the special order. A motion to substituto the minority for tho majority report was lost by a vote of 13 to 17, after which, the majority resolutions were cousiderfid seriatim, and several verbal arabnjments made. Upon important amendments proposed, an animated discussion arose, the Free Press report of which we copy, premising that the speakers are all Republioana : On raotion of Mr Backus, the fourth resolution of the minority report wassubstituted in place of the thii d resolution of the majority report so that it reads as follows : " Resolved, That there is no metliod for a State to escape her obligations to the coimtitution, except by and through an amendment to that time-hallowcd instrument." Wlien the seventh resoltfUon was reached, which statos that no legislation was ever iuteuded to conflict with any clause of the constitution, and promiaing to examine and reform tho s:n;ie if such exist, Mr. Jones moved to strike it out altogetlier and aubatitute the sixth resolution ot the minority report in place of ie. This resolution reads as fullows : " Resolved, That Michigan is now, as she always has been, entirely loyal to the coiiBtitution, which has secured to & great aud powerfitl nation so lsrge a measure ot prosperity at home and renown abroad, and, in order to live in harmony under tko same common flag, is prepared to make every gacrifice except selt'-respeot, bouor, justice, and our noble form of goverument itsclf." Before a vote was taken upon this Mr. Withey offered the following as a Bubstitute for all of them : " Resolved, That we desire in goed faith to respect and obey every provisión of the constitutiou of tho United States, and to this end, wliatever laws may bu t'ouud upon our 3tatutes eontravcniug in auy respect the constitutiou of the United States or the laws of Congress made in pursuanco thereof, we couccive it to be our duty to repeal." líe said that we ought to meet this issue fairly and squarsly; if we have laws upon our statute books that contravene the constitution or the laws of Congress we ought to repeal them. Ho wished no reservatiou, no qualification, but let us meet the issue square to its face. Mr. Backus said he siiould be obliged to vote against the substituto. He had no disposition to treat orspe.jdhis time battlnig with nuliities. If laws are upou the statute book that are unconstifutional, thon they are nuil and void, always have been and always will be. The Senator understands that perfecdy well, and as for himself he should be obliged to oppose the resolution. Mr. WrniEY replied that the substituto does not state or imply that wc havo laws that are uueonstitutional, but it was wcll knovvn that a large portion of our eitizens and of the eitizens of other States believe that we have sucb laws, and Üonators could not ignore the fact that the thoughts of every Senator referrod to the laws on our statute books kiiowu as the personal liberty laws. There were noble Union-loving men in other States, who appualud to us to look at our statutes. They appealed to us to give them aid iu their struggle. It was no more than just to propitiato that part of the country. It was honorable and just that we should meet the issue, and say that we would repeal any laws upon our statute books repuguant to the constitution. Ho trusted that Senators would not refuso, from timidity, or auy other causo, to act indepundeutly and justly upou this question. Wliun the Senator from the tlnrd (Mr. Backus) claimod that, if we had laws that were unconstitutioual, they were a iiullity, he did not meet the issue. There were lawa upon our itatuto books that were i poiated at by the wkote couutry as obnox lous to the charge of being ! al. These were facts that could not be ignorad. The mind of evory Senator : present instantly tnrned to what aro oali led uur 'personal liberty laws, on the in troductiou of liis substituto : and ye'C the Senator would try to ignora the oxitence of suoh laws. We were asked by the border States to examine our law, and to remove such as 1 were objectionable to the eoüstitution. - ' And we were asked to do this to help those noble men in their oonteat against the progress of soeession iu tkeir part of tbfl Union. They asked us to examine and see if we had auy uuconstitutional laws This substitute pledged us to suuh an investigation, and il' suoh lawa were found it was our duty to repeal them. If such luws were to be found, ha was roady to vote for their repeal. Mr. Baldwin said he was aomewhat surprited at ome of the statements of Senator Baokus iu regardiug all these liiwy is nullities and therefore refusing to treat with them at all. It is vvtíil knowu that suits may ba coiunienced under these laws, whioh must be ragarded as valid until a final decisión ahali be had in rafaranee to their oonstitutionality. Great inconvenienoe and graat oxpeuse will be eutailed upon partiea who may litígate under theui, and notwithitanding the assertion of the Senator, yet tha faet ia they raust be regarded as laws, good, valid, conatitatioual laws, until we get a decisión, and the assortion that they are not such, are but mere nullities, must be received with grains of allowanee. liequi sitions can be made upon the Goveruor uuder them, and he is obliged to act, just as are all the offioers of the State. Jivery member when he comes haro takes a solemn oath to support the constitution of the Union and of the State. Such an oath he himseli' had taken, and it was therefore obligatory npon hiin to do all that he could to support tliem, and remove what' ever geemed to conflict with them. Ho deomcd the substitute of Senator Withey a eininently just and proper, and most assuredly hoped and desired that it might be adopted. Let ths Seuate do this nuieh in viudication of what he believed to be right and proper. Mr. Backus ssid he could not probably convince the gentleman frona the '2d (.Mr. Baldwin) or tho geutleman froin the 2(Jth (Mr Withey) of the reasonableness of his objectiora to tb e propositions they urge and, if he should oonviüóe them, they would probably rsinam of the same opinión still. He objeattid to whipping the devil arouud the stump. If a law is uuconstitutioual it is no law and therefore needs r.o repeal. If gentlemen would declaro that all laws that are uuconstitutional are of do force and obligation then he would roto with them, If they will propose to expunge all unconstitutional legislation from the statute books he would unite with them. But this hypothetical hinting at something not -expressed he was opposed to. He was o')posed to this hanting proeess ; this looking for something that we don't know exists. If we have got any unoonstitutional laws let U3 in a manly manner wipe them out. Mr. Baldwin thought the gentleman was partly oonverted and rejoioed to see it. He would go for the abrogation - ■ exp'urgation - of unconstitutional legislation. True, he does not say he will go for repeal, but he has certaiuly mudo an advance toward the position to whioh wú desire to bring him. But he has not an swered the argument we adduced regarding tlítí oxpeune of litigation, and one er proposition that had been stated. If he will auswer those argumenta he does all we ask of him. It is mauly, it is cour ageous, to wipe out unconstitutional law. Mr. Jones stated that he wus not preparèd to suppurt the substituto. No specitic charges were brougkt against any law; he had heard it charged that some of them were uncoustitutional, but no dciiuite charges were made, - the finger was not pointcd at any particular law. If a definite charge was made against any particular statute, theu he should be prepared to look at it, examine it, and if anything was wrong he would go for reforming it. But uutil that was done he shúuld be obligd to vote against the proposition under considuration. Mr. Ingkhsoll followed in support of the substituto, though he muoh preferrod the original resolution in the report, which in the end he should vote to retaiu. Ho had approaehed this whole subject in the most dispassionate spirit, and hoped the question would raeeive equal cousideration with the entire Seuate. When, by tho act of a perfidious adinmistration iu 1854, this whirl-wind which now sweeps over the country was sown, there were thirtv thousaud democrats in this State who stepped from tho ranks of that psrty, and shoulder 10 shoulder fought maufully to brins baulc the ffovcrument to the policy of its founders - the nou-eïtensiou of 6lavery in the Tcrritorieü. Among that number were the inajority of the Committee on Fedoral llelations, and other Senators who agreed with him in this matter, who were now to be told that, after havmg left a strong and powerful party, having control of the State and Federal govormnents, with all the allurements of power and blaudishments of oüiee, they were now ready to aacriüce principie and eringe to rebellion. On his owu part, and for other honorable Sen ators, he denied parleying with the traitors of the South; but he claimod that there was as much courage to be displuyed in moral as there was iu physical force. He honored tho maa who at all times could stand up and say. no matter what the surroundings, "If I have broken the bond - if I have encroaohed upon your prerogatives- you shall be righted." - Now, what was this ghost that stalks forth in the Seute chamber at which Senators were so freightened? Why, it was simply propsed to examino the atatutes, and by the best lights that could be obtained, see whether the rights of others had been iufriuged upou by tha action of former Lugi.slatures; while we are accusing otheis of violatiug faith, to see that our own hands are really olean - nothing more and nothing less. Was thia lowering the rcpublican banncr oue iuch? - Shall it be said, then, that when the tirm Union uien of the border slave States, who ara surrounded and thre.atened by the minions of seoession, ask us to examine this mattter, we answer those fiiourls, in the language of a Senator on this iloor, that our statutes shall be a sealed book, and that we will not eyen look into them? But the Sfnator from the 3d (Mr. Eackus) had ridiculud the idea of repealing an unconstitutional law, on the ground that such a law was already dead. It was enough to rcfer the Senator to a statute law ot 18-53, on the constitutiontility of ivhieli, wheu brought before the Supreme (Jourt of this tí late, thut tribunal was equally divided. The legislature then Stepped in as au umpire, and at tho next session wisely rcpeuled the doubtful act. Was there cowardico m thtBÏ Was it not the part of wisdom to remove the boue of contentioui This uiorniug wheu petitions from our own eitizeus - prominent men who sustained the ropubhean flug in the lust contest, - asking tlie repeal or modificaticm of tha personal liberty laws, had besn referred to the Oommittee on Federal Relations, the chairman of that committee aaked for conatitutioual light upon that subject, and his resolution was laidupon the table as though it had been an infernal maohine. Thus not only Uuion-loving mon beyond the borders of our State, but our friendi at home, ask for aotion in the matter, but the legal talent of tha Comtuittee on the Judioary and the views of the Judiciary are deniod thein. The simple paisag of-thfli resolutions i all that is called for in the report of the Committoo on Federal Relation. Ho than called attention of Senators to the rscent recommendations of the Exeeutives of New York, Pounsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsiu, &e. - men who wre high in the affections of the republican party, - and yet they recommended the repaal of the personal liberty laws oonflicting with the constitiitional rights of the Soth. Wera such men lame in the back and weak in the knoes? ïhe Senator oalled partioular attention to the advioe of üov. öeward, in his speech of Saturday laat, and proueeded to read a siiiall extract, but was called to order by Senator títout, who objected to the readmg Mr. I.NGEK30LL then sent tho extract up to the tSecretary to read, but iinmediately withdrew it, reiuarking that, in khe house of his friends, tht, advice of Q-ov. Seward, the Premier of the ineomiug adininistration of President Lincoln and the ackuowledged representativo man of the republieans, had been objected to, and he would uot i;isist that they should drink at the fountain thoy suddonly scemed bo to disrelisb. He would not pin his faith to any man's sleeva, but he had cited the viaws of these represontative men and staudard-buarers of' the party to show that if he, as a Senator, had exhibited signs of backing down from the principies of the party by merely asking to look int these laws, then had the baokche become general. After appealing to the good ïeiise and magnauimity of a victorious party, for the -ake of itsfrieuds where it requireá nere to avow ona's gelf a Uuiou man, hg took his ïeat Mr. Stkiokland opposed it adoption. Mr. Willtamü made gome extended remarks, in which he not only strongly opposed the adoption of the substitute, but any legislation or action that will teud to heal the present dilficulty. Mr Baldwin wislied to reply to a remark or two of tho Senator from the 2 lat (Mr. Strickland). That Se:iator claimed that he was unwilling to viólate the Chicago platform, and assumed that the pasgage of this resolution would bring us in conflict, with that platform. And gomething was said iu the connection about weak knees. If Senators were weakkneed whoundertook to do right, he confessed to that weakness. He was a republican, and subseribad to the Chicago platform, one plank of which was to obey I the laws. If the repubüean party wera ! not in favor of oboying the constitution of' United Statei and the laws passed in pursuanee thereof, the moment he waa satisfied that th;s was truo he should cesse to be a republican. The first duty of Mick; ! igan was to put herself right, and, if there [ were unconstitutional laws on the statute ' booksofthe gouthern States, we eould then go to them with clean hands. Such ! laws, if they existed there,wo!-e noesense I for us, The gentleman from the 3d ( Mr. Backus) claimed that our uncohstitutional laws were void, and needed uone of our attention. Then tho uneonstitutional i laws of the South werd nuil and void, and the oomplaints of sectiotis were unjust. Let us put ourselves right, and j then we shall be in an imprégname position to ask them to do right also. After sevftr several more speec-hos from Senators Strickland, Groen, Ingersoll, and Gale, Mr. Wituey said he wished to reply to some of the asaertions of soine of the Senators who had opposed hit substitute, and he should claim the rigtt and ; privilege jf reply ing. This ho would not urge to-night, tho Senate now beiag wearied and he would therefore move that the Senate as ia committee of the whole riie. Oarried.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus