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The Past, The Present And The Future

The Past, The Present And The Future image The Past, The Present And The Future image
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l-'i-um the N'kti.inat IntclUgenr of T,iir,Jn , Miirch 21. o have uow rcaelied a stage in uur civil history at which it becouics the patriot.c and iutclligont observar to pause in eandid review of' the past, in comprehensivo scrutiny of the present, and iu prudent forecast of the future. The startliug üvents of the lust few inonths huvu boen so moinentouï, aud have, morcovcr, crowded upon the popular attention with so strange a rapidity, that buh little timo or disposition has been left for the carafui groupings of the factl, which collectively inake up the present anomalous situation of the country. Yet it is only by such a general survey of the field that w can rightly diseern the line of direutioa by vvhieh wo may jope to compass an exit from the existing tnibarrassmenta of tho government. Many of the counsds addressed to that government, and to the people, both at the North ai.d the South, seem to us erroneous and dapgerous in tha extreme, simply from the failurc on tilia part of their authors to take iuto account a portion of the elementa which are essential to a proper solution of the iiuestion in hand. To this rctrospeet of tho past and glance at the future wo are accordingly impclled by a senso of public duty, and at the same time by a grateful appreoiation of the generous confidenco with whieh the readers of' this paper have encouraged aud sustaiued the courso of its editors in the trying conjuncturo through wh!eh the country lias latei passed, and from which it ha3 not jtt emerged. llaving thus referred to tho recent history and existing state of the country, a resulting trom a partial disinembermeii of the Union, and from the spirit of disaffection whieh still subáists in a porliou of the States adhering to their Federal allegiance, it remains for us next to consider tlie policy whicli, in our judgincut, the adiiiinistration should pursue in deuling with the exeeptional ijucstions forced upon our cousideration by the civil revo' lution that has taken place. Our readers do not need to be inforined that we aro entirely opposeil to anytLi g like "coerción,1 in order t) retain thu poople of the seceding States within tho orbit of tho Union. We do not bjliovu D any right of secessioa, but just as littlu do we believe in the doctrine of ■' coerción"' as a remedy for the cvils created by the eseicisj oí Ui. t ass uned r gut. Accordmgto tho theory of our civil system, tbo sevcral States, ii' uot volunlarily truo to their Federal obligntious, may coramit wrongs against the Federal govcrument, even while noiniually within the Union, against whicb tliat government could uot take up anus without preoipitaticg a total chango of political relations. It caunot be denied that our govornment, ia ita very genius, is esseutially a governmont of consent, depend f ng for ita ordrrly and hnrmoniuus workiiig on the support it fiuds in the hearts of the peopla. Local insurrectioi.s, or even general popular insubordination extending througliout a singla State, as in the case of the " Dorr rebelliorr' in Rhode Island, may be put down by the strong haud of the civil powor. But in the present instauce the problem presented for solutiou involvea elementa of difficulty and danger whioh are much. more wide-spread in their prevalenee, anil which are mueh more deeply seated iu the body politie. In seven States of tlie (Jnion thií Federal authority has boen entirely aboiished. Tho civil machmory osseatial to tho executiou of the laws h:is passed into the hands of mon who du longer recognizo that authority. The States rsnouucing their Federal allegiaDce have had erected ovor theui a eonfederata govornmeut wliieh, in their Dame, assuruea to exercise the functions dovolvod ou tha government of the United States. Uiider suck airoumstanoca it is obvioui that theoretical obligation imposed on tlio President of the Ujiited States toexecuta tho lavfs equallj iu Georgia and New York must, iu practica, bo modulated according to tho altered circurustanees of the case presented by the former. As nobody in tho government or tut of it proposes to instituto a "coercive poliey" tbr the " subjugatiou" of the seoediug States, it remaras to say that the only points of possiblo contact aud hostility relate to tho collection of the revenue and tho occupatioa of the public property of the United States, which property, sitúate within the seceding States and still in our possession, is noiv reduced, soou will be rcducod, to the single fort of Pickens, on the coast of Florida. With regard to the collection of tho rerenue by the United States on all goods iinported into tho seceding States, we have to say that, even if politie, it ia, by the methods prescribed in the existlng laws of the land, rendered impracticable. As bas been well said, the President, wiio is s.voru to cnforce the luw, must hunself obey the law ; and he eau colluct the revenue only at the places and iu the minuer preseribed by the exitmg acts of Congress. The ports of entry ara established by Congress ; the President haa uo power to abolish thom, or to transfer the plaga of collecting the dutics. Tlio oaly alteruative open to adoption, undcr present circumstances, would seein to be, to eitablish the castora house on board a governnient vesso;l but it does not appear that the Execatiré has power to do t'hia without special authorization by Congres. In 1888, wheu the eollection of the Federal revenue was likely to ba resisted iri Sjuth Carolina, President Jacksju adTised that ia act should ba passod authorizing the President to alter and abolish such.of the districts and ports of entry as should be necessary, and establish thu custom-house at some secure plaee within a port or harbor, with various othor modi'ications of the then exiaiing Iaw3. An act was passed ia eompliance with this recommendation, but ics operatiou wa limitad to the close of the next sessio of Congress. Mr. Lincoln has no more power now than President Jackion had previous to the passage of '■ the forco act ;" and if tha Executive needed to bo clothcd with additiunal authority theu, it would soem to 'je even more necessary under existiug circumstanees. Conbidcred, therefore, purely as a question of power, wo do not perceive that President Liueolu haa anjauthority to collect the revenues in thu seccding States, otherwise thau iu t!ie way provided by the ordinary laws, which, as is kuowii, aro wholly iuadouato for the purpose, sinco in thoso btates tho liederal goveruinent is v. holly without acents to adininister or enforce the laws. 1? is plain, theu, that without additional legislatiou the revenues cannot becollected at (Jharlestoa, Mobile, or New Orleana. Aid, eonsidaring tho question as oue of policy, wa are frank to avow our opposition to any attempt, on the part of the Federal goviirnLuent, to supply this defect by further legislation at the lia.uls of Conf'ress, whiuh, we have seou it iutimated in some of our eoteinporaries, nwy possibly be summoned by the Preeideut tbr this purpoüo ia extraordinury iesaioo. To collact the revimues on ressels of war, statioued off all t!e ports of tl e s coding States, even if o. cilile, would, to uao a houiely phrase. bu found " to cost moro than it oame to,'' and would not fa l tt bring about hostilities betwuen the twe govemmeats, the end of. wh:ch no uiau can foresee. Wc all know thit ther? are peculiar' riMSoMs of State ju lii-y whieh maku (Ikprewrvatiou of the public pcace more incuittbeut on owgovernmeiit titan on that of ilio soioetfing Si:ites - mora incumbont, wo nican, in mint of expédiencv, for. in point of moral duty, tlio obligltión ia KLutuljr binding on both. The secediitg St:itcs see, or fanoy they sec, in the rotúrenle of hostilities botweeii tlioai aud the Federal governmont, o gare mcaus of winning to tbcir number the border sluveholding States. And it is the part of Dound policy nnd wise strotegy on t Ii part ui tlie Federal governmont to avoid all possible occusioi.s of offmice,aa fur as maY bo compatible nitli the nationnl s:itty, whii-li, in the present attitude of ouf civil relations, can botter be sub3crved by OODCilintion niid forbearunee than by the Mimnary peocen of exoouive rigor, And. Bi in th i case of the public rc-venucs, so also in the caso of public property sei.ed by tlie Becedint States, we entircly dtsnpprove the pol ie y of attempting it.i rc-eapture and OCCBpfttlon by military foree. 'J'h? wrong coiumitted by such eoizure would oot bc remediad by sucb a proeccdiiig, or tïic rcinedy might provo than tliti wrong. In regard to the ratention of the iorta ocevpied by the United State, that is a (juestion wjiicli is mow brougbt down to the simple point of holding or abaudouing Fort Fielten, for we asatimo that Fort 8umpter will be evteuated ,it an tarly day, ai.d Forts JelFerson at Tortu gn, aud Taylof at Key West, lying far out at e:t, ni'd bcing obviously of natioual impórtame, are not iicludcd in tho number of the post which the State of Florida is ciititlcd to claim on thegroiuul vf ny nccessity fur her local defoDCC, Forti JoffcriiOii and ïaylor were built vitfa paramount reference to tbc commerco of the United Statis, and sbould remain in tlio hands of the goverument which built tbem in the interest of its commerce. The Key West naval c.'i.ildepot aad irbarf, the marine hosjiital, the army barracks, the adniiralty eourts and ■wri'cking organization, and the series of light-hoi s-'s - liOggerhead, Tortugas, Key West, Sand Key, Sombrero, Caryslort, Cape Floridn, Júpiter, and Cpu (Jarnivcral -will not, we taku it for granted, be abandoMvd to the S tato which has least interest in tbera and least capacity to'hold and maintain them. Iet Florida have Fort Clinch to gaard tho approacbcB to Femandina ; let her have the Fensaeola navy yar;) and the triplo fortifications there ; let her liavc what concerns only lucal iuterests; but tho commercial United States caniiot bo justly called to sarrender touncommercial Florida what belongs to and concerns only the commerce of tho nation. From rirst to last, .18 an intelligent writer bas said in our columns, all the appropriations made for the works at Key West nnd Tortugas have been asked offieially, aMd by their advocates in Congress, on the express ground of their national importane, and not at all because of any local Talue. The Florida Senators and .Representativos are forever estopped from claiming them as local, by oft-retorded aesertions of their nationahty as the solo reason for appropriations iu their bchalf. Key Wct-t and tho whole line of reets nd keys have ouly a commurcial siguifince. They are widely separate from the Florida maiu-land in Geography, intorests, and locatious. They should be onsidered aud occupied as uational, not local. The question of military posts in dispute betweeu the goverument of the United State and oi tho " Coufederatcd Statea" being thus narrowed down to tho retention of Fort l'ickens by the fonnor, r its occupation by the latter, it seems to us tbat the matter in coutroversy is so nmall that either government inav Waivo its claim with eutire propriety, a"ud that in no event oan it be inadu the occasion of bostilitica. Whilc it might be entiroly prudent for our governmeut to withdraw tho garrisou now boldiug it, and whilo ibis is the step which, uudcr all the eircumstances, we would advise, yet we are free to say that, sliould tho goveruuient of the Confedérate States iniUute bostile procecdings for the summary capture of this single Federal post, it would indícate aa alaerity for war such as would do diseredit to its repute for humanity throughout the civiiized world. For what, at presant, is the admitted character of that goverument ï The proTisionai creation of a body of men, appointed by State eonventions whose membors wore elected without the least reference to the formation of any federativo goveruuient, whether provisional or perniaucut, it Las uo Bulüciontly useertaiuod basis in the popular will to ensure for its edicts an uuquestioning and i tn medíate assent at tlie hands of other governmeuts, whose popular legitimucy adiuits of no question. If, then, whila adviaiiig forbtarauee on both sides. wo would havf the Federal govcriuuent take pro-cminenco in the way of coticiliatioii, it 'n because by so doiug it eau best defeat the ulterior purposes which might bo subeerved by a different poliey. In view of the ditticulties which surTound an adjuátment of the (luestions raiscd by tho dismemberment of tho Union, wc havo come to the conclusión that no authority luss linal aud comprehensivo than a general couvention of the States ütill remaiuing loyal to their Federal allegiance can be succcssfully invoked in the premisci. We takc it for granted that if the separation of the teceded ötates is to bepcrmauentjthe tjuestious now outstauding between them uud the Federal governmeol are to be scttled in somc authoritative manuer, aud we know of no way iu which this can bc done so appropriately aud efi'ectively as by the arbitration of a national conference. It would be the duty of such conveution to revise the couftitutiou of tho Uuited States, aud this might be dono in uch a way as (O bring about a recoiistructiou of the Uuion ; or, f thig should be found impracticable, provisión might be made for coutracting the limita of the Union so as to ooinprise ouly the States aooeding to the project of a constitution Bubinil'.ed as the fruit of it.- labors. Iu the propositions of the late l'eace Conference we have already tho basis of constitution jl auicndmcuts. whicb, in substauce if not in form, miglit be taken as the general rallying cry of conserTative men iu proceeding to the election of delegates to such conventiou from all the States. The work of tho Peaec Conference, so far from falling to the ground, might thus ba wade the lucans of aaeuring tbc return of a majurity of the delegates fiomuiitted to its general principies, and thus tha proeeedinga of the natioual convontion would be restrained within just limits, without diverging into the contraricties of opinión springing from the prodominancc of seotional autagonisms over fhc spirit of eoucession and compromise. i no one proposes tho subjugation of the seceded States, it follows that the ad justment of their relations to the Federal government can be arranged only by thcir voluntary return to the Union or by tbc definite recognition of their indopendonce out of it. A eoon a it shall bo niade apparent tüat tho jieojile of the sci-dcd Staies desire a permanent separation from their former confederatcs, it ould neem to bo the part of wisdom and ■ound poliey for tlie people of the United to aequicpee iu that depiw, Nothin (?an l paincd in the interest af peace or diguity or oiid r.uiglibiirliooil or re oiproual Irnde, by a partnUnt refusal to ascertain nud lis disputed relations wliich must bc adju.sty'l in tlio end. and whioh con bo inoro ííttlífaetorily adjüstcd by licgoliations boforo war than l y ucgottationl af tor war. Aiul lr:ids us toremark that tbc pcoplo of the loyal States have an interest in tbc adjtistinciit of tliis questiot) al au 1 early day, so BOOD is t sliail bu satittfactorily Bscertaincd (if it sbouid bo bo iscortaiucd) that thu sucesión of tbc Confedérate Status is dcfinitc; for, n tbc interval, a vaeancv uxisis in tbe re]H'c seiitatiun ot' the stjeoding States in uoogress, but astho new npportionmout ot' Pfederal representación, coosequont on the lato census, jioeccds on tlio assuinptioti tliat j tlieso bta'Cfe still fortn a part of tlio Unton, it follona tliat tbe peoplo of tbe ad.heriog States are pro lauto dtprived of tbe additioual representatnn they would recoive in case the ratio ot' ropresoitttttioD should bo üsed witb exclusive reforenca to tlie populatiou wbtcb aoknovlcdge foalty to tliu ooustitutiou aud lawa of tbc Ünitcd .Statcs. Tlicro is alan anotbcr consideration wbicli ploads strungly bl favor of adjusting tbis (jucstion aueording to tbe aecoiuplisbod facts of our polttíoál BÍtuation, is BOOn as all tbo indieations shall infallibly i p'.iint to a permanent disselutioo of tbe UaioB. Wo alhule to tbü adoptionofj 1 amiiiidnieiHs to tbe coiü-titulion of tbo l.'niteil States. Ü.iü snob, having been ! proposüd bv CoDgress at its late Bession, I is already pending beforo tho several States, aod, if a líatiobal convention is eaüed, otbers will be submitted. 15y tbe terina of tbe eonstitution it s reqairtd tbal sucb ameüdnients shall bo ratiüed by three-fourtbs of all tho Statea. Tbe seC23.sion of seven ÍStates bas reduced to twenty-seven tbe number of States still adbering to tbe coustitution, and if tbe (brmcr are to bo regarded, iti spite of their alleged seeession, as integral menibers of tbe Union, it II be in tbe power of any two States to defeat lbo ratification of anieudnionts to the coustitution ; for tbo ratiMhtion of twenty-six out of tbe thirtyfour States will be necessary to procuro the requisite ïuajority of tbrcefourtbs. In tbe presence of sucb fact.s it is obvious tbat thcre is a poir.t beyond wbich it would bo absurd to push tbe exactious of tbeory in opposition to tbc dicfcates of politieai prudence. If, tben, tbe dovolopnieuts of the ensuing vear s'uall leave 110 doubt respecting tbe determiuation of tho pcople in tïio seccded States to maintain tbeir preseut attitude towards tbe Uuitcd Statss, wo shall advocate tbe polk-y of tbcir recoguil Loa by our government, and tbis, among otber questious, migbt be referred to tbc arbitrament of a üational couventiou, wbich would be called to mako arrangeniei.t;- witb especial rcí'ereuce to tbis matter. In tbe meaotiiue, aud equally iu bebalf of both governmonts, we shall DOt ccase to incúlcate the duty of patieuce aud the arts of peace.


Old News
Michigan Argus