Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24, 1862

June 24, 1862:  Outside of Richmond, Gen. Joseph Hooker’s U.S. division advances its picket lines closer to the city; there is considerable skirmishing with the Rebels in this operation. 

---Josiah Marshall Favill, an officer in the 57th New York Infantry, notes this interesting observation about a soldier’s life in his journal:

June 24th. Almost every man in the regiment got a thorough drenching last night; their arms, too. The colonel ordered fires lighted to dry the blankets and clothing, and on the color line at break of day every ball cartridge was withdrawn and the men ordered to clean their muskets. After breakfast the regiment fell in, and arms were carefully inspected, then reloaded. It is extraordinary how little the men require looking after in regard to their muskets! There are few men who do not keep them in perfect order all the time.

---In the U.S. Senate, Senator Willard Saulsbury, Sr., of Delaware (who once had distinguished himself by threatening the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms with a pistol to the head, in chambers), bares his opposition to the Confiscation Acts in a spirited protest on the basis of Constitutional law:

Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware: Under the pretense of suppressing a causeless rebellion, the executive and legislative departments of this Government are, in my opinion, daily engaged in the grossest violations of the fundamental law. If in times of peace the Constitution is the surest protection of the citizen, in times of civil war it is his only hope of safety.

   It is my purpose today, to strip assumption of its false pretensions, and to expose to public view the real authors and abettors of my country’s ruin. From my place I say that it is my deliberate and solemn conviction that either abolitionism or constitutional liberty must forever die; the two cannot exist together. Abolitionism has for the time being dissolved the Union. While it lives and rules, the Union will remain dissolved. . . .

   For purposes of convenience they entered, as independent States, each with the other, into Articles of Confederation. In 1787, for the purpose of forming a more perfect union between them, these separate, independent, and sovereign States appointed delegates to a common convention, to consider and agree upon terms of union for purposes common to them all, subject, however, to their separate ratification and approval. The approval of a majority of all the people of these States could not make the agreement of the delegates a constitution for all or any of them. It required the separate approval of each separate State to make that agreement its constitution. When nine States had thus separately ratified this agreement, it became their constitution, but not the constitution of those States which had not given it their assent. . . . No one was mad enough then to propose emancipation of slaves as a condition of Union. . .

   Seventy years later Lincoln was elected, Fort Sumter was fired. . . . On the day following the fall of Sumter, Congress passed a resolution that this war was to be waged to restore the Union, not to free slaves.

   And how have you kept that word? You have abolished slavery in the District, when slave-owners claim their property, you turn the military upon them, making it an offense for any military officer to return a slave to his master. You have decoyed and afforded shelter to thousands of slaves. You are now feeding and clothing them. You are paying thousands of negroes to act as teamsters and you are arming the slaves. You are attempting to build up an abolition party in the Border States, and you have recognized Hayti and Liberia. You have by your bills proposed the emancipation of almost the entire slave population of the South. . . . Governments according to our theory, derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed. There is no divine right in the ruling power. In the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are declared to be inalienable rights; and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it. . . .

   This is the doctrine of Lincoln. In 1848, sitting in Congress, Lincoln said, “any people anywhere being inclined, and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government. and form a new one that suits them better.”

   Mr. President, the true theory of our government is this: the Federal Government is the creature of the States. They, being sovereign, made it. Within the sphere of its delegated powers they agreed that it should be supreme. They did not thereby relinquish their own sovereignty. . . . The Government of the United States was made by the people of the several States, acting in their separate State capacity, and not by a majority of the whole people of the United States, acting in their collective capacity. . . .

   If you wage this war for the restoration of the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is, observing your own obligations under it. But if, in waging it, you mean to subvert the Constitution, which is the only bond and obligation of Union, if you mean to destroy or impair the rights of States or the people, you wage it under a false pretense and your war is murder and your success treason. . . . Did not slavery exist in the Southern States you never would have thought of this confiscation bill. You did not think of it in the war of 1812, in the war with Mexico. Why do you think of it now? Your design is to make this a war for the abolition of slavery. You desire to destroy the domestic institutions of the States. Abolition shouts Union, while meaning to destroy the only bond of Union.

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