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Letter Of The President Relative To Mr. Vallandigham

Letter Of The President Relative To Mr. Vallandigham image
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Albany, May 19, 18G3. o His Excellency the President of tho United States : Tho undersigned, offioers of a public meeting held at tho city of Albany on ie IGth day of May instant, hercwith ransmit to your Excellcncy a capy of ie resolutions adopted at the said meotig, and respectfully rcqucst your carn st consideration of them. They deern proper on their personal responsibility o state tbat the meeting was one of the most respeetablo as to numbers and ïaracter, and one of the most earnest in ie support of the Union, ever held in lis city. Yours, with great regard, ERASTUS CORNING, President. VICE PKESIDENTS. 5lI PiiRRY, WlI.LIAM SeYMOUR, -"eterGanseyoort Juremiaii Osboun, 'eter Monteatii, W. S. Paddock, . W'. Gibbs, J. B. Sanders, OHN NlBLACK, EüWAKD MüLCAUY, H. W. McClellan D. V. N. Radcliffe i. W. ROGERS, SECRETARIAS. ■ Wir.LrAJi A. Rice, M. A. Nolan, í. Newcomb, John R. Nessel, R. W. Peckham, C. W. Weeks. Mr. Linooln's Reply. Executie Mansion, WAsiirNöTON, June 'l. un. Erastus Coi'n:ug ;nd o' herfl : ' Gentlemen- Your letter of May 19, uclohiriar the resolutions of' a public ïeeting held at Albany, New York, on ie 16th of the same muuth, was re oifed sevcral days ago. Tbc resolutions, as I understand them, re resolvable into two propositions - rst, the expression of a purpose to susain the cause of the Union, to secure leace thrnugh victory and to support ie adoiiuistration in every constitutional nd lawful measure to suppress the rejellioti ; and seoondly, a declaration o' ensure upon the adjniiiistration for snp josed uueoiistitutioiial aotion, such as the uiking of military arre-ts. And frotn ,he two propositions a third is deduced, vbicli is, thiit the gentlemen composing lie üioeting are resolved on doing tlieir )art to maintain our eominon govcruïc-nt and country, despite the folly or wickedness, as they mtiy conccive. of any duiinistration. This position is cmi cntly patriotic, and ss such, I tb ank the ïeeting and congratúlate thu nation tor t. My own purpose is the sanie; so hat the meeting and myself have a common object and ean have nn difference, xeept in tho choice of means or measures for eflecting tbat object. And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, if there were no apirel eiiïion that moro injurio as ocnse[uenoes than any morely personal to my elf' miglit follow the censures systematicalh cast upon me for doing wliat, in ïny view of duty, I eould not forbear. The rcsülutiüus promiso to support me in evcry constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebcllion ; aud I have not knowingly eiuployed, nor shall knowingly emploj, any other. Bu! the meeting, by their resolutions, assert and argue that certain military arrests, and proceedings followiug them, for which I ara ultiinately responsible, are constitutional I think they are not. The rcsolations quote froru the eonstitution the definí tion of treason, and also the liniiting safeguaida and guarantces therein provided for the citizen on trial for treason, and on bis beinr held to answer for capital or otherwise nfamous crimes, and, in criminal prosecutions, bis rigfat to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury - ïliey proceed to resolve " that these safeguards of the rights of the eitizen agaiust the pretensions of arbitrary power were intended more especial; for nis protection in times of civil cominotioD." And, apparently to demónstrate the proposition, the resolutions proceed ; '■ They were seeured substautially to the English pooplo after years of protracted civil war, and were adoptcd into our eonstitution at the close of the T?evolution." Would not the dcmoiistration have boen better, if it could have been truly said tbat these safeguards had been adoptcd and applied duriag the civil wars anti during the Revolution, instead of aftor the one and at the close of the other ? T, ton, am devotedly for thetn after civil war, and before civil war, and at all times, except when ''in cases of rebcllion or invasión, the public safety may require ;' tbeir suspensión. The resolutions proceods to teil us that these safeguards ■' have stoüd the test of seventysix years of trial, under our republican system, ander ciroumstances which slwv; that while they constitutc the foundation of all free government, t!:c are the ele ments of the endurinpr stabilitj of' the rcpublio." No one denies that thev hnve so stood the test up to tho beginning of the prcxei.t rebellion, if we e;;c pt a oor tain occurrence at New Orleans, nor doos any one quc8tion thaf they will stand the same test rnuch lottger afrer the rebellion closes. But these provisions of the constituí on have no applioation to the oase we have in hai.d, because the arrests coniplained of were not made for treason - that is, not for the treason dcfined in the constitutief), and upou the conviction of which the pui'ishment is death - nor yet were they made to hold persons to answer for any capital (ir otherwisa infamous crimes; nor were the prooeedings following, in any ooostitatiooal or legal sensc, " criminal prosecutioDS." 'Ihe arreats we:e niaLe on totully different groundt-, and the prooeedings following accofded witb the grounds of Ihe arresta Lot us consider tbc real case with which wc are dealing, and apply to it the parta of the constitutiou plaioly made for such capes. Prior to my instftllatioti hcro it had bseu inculoatod t!):;t any State hada lawful right to sccedo from the nntional Union, and that it would bo expedieut to exerciso the right whenever the devotees of the doctrine should fail to elaet a President to own liking I was elected oontrary to their liking; and, acoordingly, so far as it was logally possible, thcy had taken sevon States cu of the Union, and seizcd many of the Uuhcd States forts, and had iired upon the United States flag, all boforo I was inaugurated, and, of course, before I had done any official act wïiatever. The rebel'ion rthus began, soon ran into the present civil war ; and, ín certaiu tespects, it began on uncqual terms between the parties The insurgents had been preparing for it more than thirty years, whilo the government had taken no steps to rcsisl thom. The fermer had carefully considered ail the means which could be turned to their account. It undcubtcdly was a well pondered reliance with them that in their own ucrestricted efforts to destroy the Union, con-titution and laws, all together, the government would, in a great degröp, be restrained by the same constitution and lawe from arresting their progresa. Tlieir syinpathizers pervaded all departments of the goverumebt and nearly all eonimunities of the people. From this material, under cover of " liberty of speech,1' "liberty of the press," and " liabeas corpus," thcy hopcd to keep on foot amongst us a most efficiënt corps of spie?, in formers, suppliers and aidors and abettiirs of their cause in a thousaud ways. They knew that in times such as they vvere inaugurating, by tlie constitutinn itself, the '■Juibcas corpus" might be suspended but they also knew they had friends who would make a question as to who was to suspend it; meanwhile their spies and others might remain at large to help on their ciuse. Or if, aa bas hap poned, the ixeeutive should suspend the writ, without ruinous wasle of time, instances of arresting innocent persons might oeeur, as are al ways likcly to oc eur in sueh cases ; and then a clamor could be ï-aised in regard to this, which might be, at. least, of some service to the iusurgent cause. It needed no very keen perception to discover this part of the enemy's programme so soon as by open hostilities thoir machinery was fairly put in motion. Yet, thoroughly imbucd with a revcrouce for the guaran teed Hghts of individuáis, I was slow to adopt the strong ineasures which by degrees I have been forced to regard as being within the exceptions of the constitution and as indispensable to the public safety. Nolhing is botter known to history than that courts of justico are utterly iucom )etent to sueh cases Civil courts are organized ubicfiy for trials of individuáis, or. at most, a few individuals acting in concert ; and this íd quiet times, and on charges of crimes well defined in the law. Even in times of pcaco bands of horse thievesand robbers frequently grow too numerous and powerful fer tho ordinary courts of justico. But what comparison in numbers have such bands ever borne to the iusurgent sympathizers even in many of the loyal States ? Again, a jury too frequently has at least one mem ber n:ore r"b:;dy to hang the panel that to hang the traitor. And yet, again, hc who dissuades onc man from volunteer ing, or induces ono soldier to desert weakens the Union cause as much as he who kills a Union soldier in battle. Ye: this dissuasion or inducement may be so conducted as to bo no defined crime o which auy civil court would take cogni zan:e. Ours is a case of rebellion - so callee by the resolutions before me - in fact, a clear, flagrant and gigantic case of re bellion ; and the provisión of the consti tution that " tbe privilege of the writ o halaas corpus shall not be suspended un less whon, in cases of rebollion or inva sion, the public safety may require it," i the provisión whieh specially applies t our present case. This provisión plainlj atteáts the understanding of those wh inado the coBStitution, that ordinar courts of justice are inadequate to " case of rebellion " -attests their purpose that in such cases, men may be held in custo dy whom the courts, acting on ordinary rules, would discharge. Habeos corpu does nH mscnarge men wno are provea to be t'uilty of definod crime ; and its suspension is allowed the oonstitution on purpose that men maj bc airestcd and held who caunot be provcd to be guüty of defined crime, " whcn in cpses of ro bclliou or invasión, the public safety may require it." Tliis is precisoly our present oase - a caso of rebellion, wberciu tlio public eafety does require the suspension. Indeed, arresta by process of eourts, and arres's in cuses of rebellion, do not prooecd altogetber upon the same bisis. The formar is direoted at the small percentage of ordinary and continuou perpetration of crime, whila tin latter is directod at sudden aud extengive uprisings aguinst tbc govermnei.t, wbicli, at molí, will Biiccced or fa il at no great lengtli of time In the hut cv c::.-e, :; are made, not so mueb for what has been done as for what probably would be done. The latter is more for the preventivo and loss for the viudioation than the fmiiier. In sueb cases the purposes of mea are much more easily understooS thau in cases of ordinary crime, The man v.iio stands by and s:iys nothing wben the peril of bis governmeut is discussed fannot be misunderstood. If not bindered, bc is sure to help the enemy; much more, if bo (alks ambitruouBly - talks for his country with "buts" and "ifs" and "ands." Of how little valuo the constitutioDal provisions I havu quo tcd will bo ïendercd, if arrests sl'.all never be made until deüned crimes slial 1 have been eonunitted, may be illus'rated by a few ndble examples. General John (J. Breckinridge, Gi neral Robert E. Lee, General Jofeph lï. Johnston, Gen John 15. Magrude', General William 15. Preston, General Bimon 13. Buckocr and Commodore Franklin Eucbanan, now OCCupying the very highest places ia the rebel war service, were all within the )ower of the government since the re)o!lion bogan, aud were nearly as wel! aiown to be traitors then as now. Unucstionably, if we had eeized and held icrn the insurgent cause would bo much veakcr. But uo one of them had thoii ommitted any crime defined in the l.iw Svcry onc of thcni, if arrested, would ïavo been discharged on habcas corpus were the writ allowed to opérate. In iew of these and similar cases, I think ie timo not unlikely to come when I bíall be blamed for liaving made too few rrests rathor thau too man}'. By the third resolution the meeting idicatc their opinión that military arests may be constitutional in localitics where robellion actually exists, but thut uch arresta are in local:ies rebollion or iusurrection does ot actually exist. They insist that uch arreste shall not bo made " outside f the lincs of necessary military occulation ai:d the scènes of insurrecta n." n&smuch, hovvever, as the constitution tself makes no such distinoticm, I am unable to believe that there is any such onstitutional distinction. 1 concede that ho class of arresta complained of eau bc ODStitutional only when, in cases of re)ellion or invasión, the public safety may equire them ; and I i t sist. that in such cuses they are ooöstilutional whcrever ho public safety does requiro them, as veil in places to whieh thoy niay prevent bc rebelliou extending as in those where t may bo already prevailing : as well vhtre thoy may reslrain mischievous inerieiei'.cu with the raisiog and supplying of armies to suppt'esa the rebeilion, as vhere the rebeilion may actually be ; as veil where they may restrain the enti ci.ig men out of the army, as where they wuuld prevent mutiny in the army ; equally coustitutional at all places where bey will conduce to the public safety, as igaiüEt the dangers of rebeilion or invasión. Take the particular case mentioned jy the meeting. It is asserted, in sub, that Mr. Vallandiiiham was, by a nilitary commander, seized and tried ■for uo other reason than words addressod to a public meeting, in criticism of the course of the adininistration, and in cündemnation of the military orders of the General." Now, if there be no take about this, n there was no other room for the arrest, then I concede that the arrest was wrong. But the arrest, as [ understand, was uiade for a very different re&son Mr. Vallundigham avows lis hostility to the war on the part of the Union ; and his arrest was made beeause ie w;is laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to oncou-age desertiöns from the arniy, and to lcave tbe rebellion without an adequate military :'orce to suppress it. He was not arrested beeause he was damaging the politica] prospects of the administraron or tbc personal interests of the conimandiug General, but beeause he was damoging tbe army, upon the existenee and vigor of which tbe lifo of the nation depends. He was warring upon the military, and this gave the military constitutional jarisdiction to lay bands upon him If Mr Vallandigham wqs not damurring the military power of the couutry, then his arrest was made on mistake of fact, which I would be glad to correct ou reasonably satistactory evidence. I understand the meeting, whose resolutions I ain considering, to be in favor of suppressing the rebellion by military forue - by arpies. Long experience has shown that armies cannot be maintaiued unless desertion hall be punisbed by the sevcre penalty of death. The casere quires, and the law and the constitution sauction, this puniehment. Must I sboot a simple mindud soldier boy who deserts, whilo I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert ? This is none the less iujurious when cffected by getting a father or brother or frioid into a public meeting, and there working upon bis feelings tiíl he is per suaded to write the eoldier boy that he is fifrhting in a bad cause, for a wicked administratioD of a contemptible governnient, too wcak to arrest ani punisb him if bo sball desert. 1 think that in such a case to silence tbe agitator and save the boy is not only coustitutional, but withal a great merey. If I be wrong on this question of constitutional power iny error lies in belicving tbat certaiu prooeedings aro constitutional when, n caso of rebellion or invasión, the public safety requives thcm, whicb would not be constitutional when. in the ahsence of' rebellion or iuvasion, the public safety docs uot require them. In other words, that the eonstitution is uot in its appltoation in ali respecets the same, in cases of rebellion involving the public safety, as it is iu times of profound peace and public security. Tbe eonstitution itself malíes the distinction ; and I can no moro be persuaded that the governmcpt can constitut.ionally take no strong mcauures in timo of rebellion, because it can be shown t!i;t the sanie could not be lawfully taken in timo of peace tban I can bo persuaded that a particular drug is not good medicine for a sick man, baciuse it can be shown to !),: nüt. good food for a woll one. Ncr ani 1 able ti) appreeiate the dauger apprebe;.ded by the meeting that American peo p!o v.iil, by meaus of military arrests during the rebellion, lose tho right of publio discussion, the liberty of speech ani the prees, law of evidenoe, trial by ju ■} and habeos corpus, thfoughout the indi fin ite peaceful future, whieh I trust lies be foro them, any more tban I mi able t beli ve that a man could contract s strong an appctite for emética during bis temporary illness as to persist in feeding upon them during the remainder of liis healthful Ufe. 1 1 giving the res)lutions tbat carne ;t ennsideration which you requeat of me, I eannot overlook the fact that the ing speak as " demócrata." Nor can I, with f'ull respect for their known iutclligence, and the fairiy presumed deliberatiou with which they prepared their resolutions, bc pcrmittcd to suppose that ,his occasion by accident, or in any way other than that theypreferrel to designate .hemselves as " democrats" rather than 1 American citizeus." In this time of national peril I would have preferred to meet you upon a level oce step higher than any party platform, besause I hui sure, from such inore elevated position, we could do bettor battle for the country we all love than we possibly can from those lower ones, where, from the force of habit, the prcjudices of the past and selfish hopes of' the future, we are sure to expend mueh of our ingenuity and strength in finding fault with and aiming blows at each otber. Uut since you have denicd me this I will yet be tbankful, fur the eountry's sake, that not all democrats have dono so. Pie on whose discrctionary judgmcnt Mr. Vallandigham was arrcsted and tried is a dcmocrat, having no old party affinity with ma; aiid the Judge who rejected the constitutioaal view expressed in these resolutions, by refusing to discharge Mr. Va}hmdighain on habeas corpus is a democni of bettcr days thau these, Inving received his judicial mantle at the hands of President Jackson. And still more-, of all those democrats who are nobly exposing their lives and sheciding their bood on the battle field, I have learneii that niany upprove the course taken with Mr. Vallandigham, while I have nob board of a single mie condemniiig it. I cannot assert that there are nor.e such. And the name of President Jackson rccalls an iustance of' pertinent histor}'. - . Af'ter the battlo of New Orleans, and while the fact that the treaty of' poaco liad been concluded was well known in the city, but beforc oüicial knowledge of it luid iinived, Genend Jackson still maintained martial or military law. - Now, that it could be said the war was over, tho clamor against martial law, which liad existed from the first, grew moro furious. Among other things a Mr. Louaülier publislied a denunciatory newgpáper árdele. General Jackson arrested him. A lawyer named Morel; procured tho United States Judge Hall to order a writ of habrás eorptts to relieve. Mr. Louaillier. General Jackson arrested both the lawyer and the judge. A Mr. Hollander veutured to say oí some part of the matter that "it was a dirty trick." General J;iekson arrested him.. Wlien the offiecr undertook to serve the writ of haleas corpus General Jackson ook it from him, and sent him away vith a copy. Holding the jude in cus-. ody a few days, the General sent him jeyend the lirmts of his encampment, nd set him ut liberty, with an order to. emain till the ratification of peacehould be regularly announced, or until he ]3iitish should haveJeft the Southeru oast. A day or two mare elapsed, the atification of the treaty of peace wasf egularly announced, aud the judge and others wcre fully liberated. A few days nore, and the judge called General. ackson into court and fined him a thous■uid dollars for haviDg arrested him and he others named. The General paidhc fine, and there the matter rested for nearly thirty years, when Congresa re'undtíd principal and interest. The late. Senator Douglas, then in the House of iepresentatives, took a leading part in, the debates, in which the constitutional juestion was much diseussed. Ij am not jrepared to say whom the journals would, show to have voted for the measure. It may be remarked, first, that wo ïad the same ooustitution then aa now; secondly, tbat we theri had a, case of iavasion, and now we have a case of reDcllion ; and, thirdly, that the permanent right of the people to public discassioa, the liberty ef epeech and of tha. press, she trial by jury, the law of evidence, the habeas corpus, suffered no detriment, whatéver by that conduct of General Jacksou, or its subsecjuent approval by the American Congress, And yet, lot me say that, in my owu discretion, I do not kuow wbether I would have ordered the arrest of Mr. Vallandigham. Whilc I caDnot sliifí the responsibility from uiyself, I hold that, as a geteral rulo, the coiaruander in the field is the botter judge oí the . cesity in any particular case. Of course, I must practico a general directory and revisory power in the matter. Oue of the resolutions expresses tho opinión of the meeting that arbitrary arrests will have the effect to divide and distraet those who shou'.d be united in suppressing the rebellioo, and I ani speciiically cailed on to discharge Mr. Vallandigham. I regard this as, at least, a fair appeal to me on the expediency of exercising a constitutional power vvhich I think exists. In response to sucli appoal 1 have to say, it gave me pain wheu I learned that Mr. Vallandigliam had boon arrested - that is, I was pamed that there should have seemed to be a neceasity for arresting hiin- and that it will afford me groat pleasuro to discharge him, so sooü as I cai-, by any means, believe the public safoty will not suifer by it. I furthcï siy that, as the war proaresses, it appears"to lúe, opinión and action, whieh wero iu great confusión at first, tako shapc and fall into moro regular channels, so that the nocossity for strong dciliiig with them graduallv do-, creases. I havo every reason to desiro that it should cease altogetber, and far from the least is my regard for the opinions and withea of thoso who, like tho meeting at Albany, declare their purpose to sustaiu the government in cvery constitutional and lawful mensure to suppregs the rebellioa, S i i 1 1 I must eontin-, ue to do so mucii as maj seem to be refjuircd by the public safaty. A. LINCOLN. ï" If you uant 1 1 get into a íal tf■ fice hirfyoui$ell to a Boap-boiler,


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