Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment Banning Slavery (13th Amendment)

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 23, 1864

This site contains our online archive of original Harper's Weekly newspapers from the Civil War. These papers have an incredible amount of original content, and stunning illustrations of the key battles and people created by news-artists in the field capturing the events of interest.

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Ladies Fair

Ladies at the Fair

Banned Slavery

Senate Passes 13th Amendment Banning Slavery

Cane River

Battle of Cane River

War Dance

Indian War Dance

Military Relics

Ferdinand Maximilian

Fair at Union Square

maximilian

Emperor Maximilian

Fair

Indian Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[APRIL 23, 1864.

258

HOME-NEWS IN BATTLE-TIME.

DYING! Along the trodden, bloody field,

Along the hills where still the tide of battle ran,

The Night came down with flaming spear and shield—Came down with starry legions marching in her van—Came down and touched the rows of mangled dead, Across the knolls and by the little ridges lying,

With loving smile, and, silent, bowed her head,

Like some pale mourner, o'er other brave ones dying.

Just on the edges of the stormy fight,

As the soft night came down, a group of soldiers knelt Around a comrade, lying calm and white,

A stain of flowing blood upon his bayonet-belt; Close by him on the trampled meadow-grass,

Beside his musket an unopened letter lay--

A message from the home which now, alas!

Must be forever dark because of this sad day.

"Read to me, Corporal," he said at last

"Read me what Mary says; I shall die happier so;" Then, while across his face a spasm passed,

He sadly moaned: "It only came to-day, you know; Just as I came afield 'twas given me-

I could not pause to read it then ; but, comrades, hark! I'm going now—the long, dim way I see

Read me what Mary says ; 'twill cheer me in the dark."

They read him, as he wished, the precious lines

The words of love, of brave encouragement and cheer—Read him how Mary, 'mid her household shrines,

Was hopeful and content; how Baby, "little dear," Had learned to walk; how Tom had won the prize

At school last term; how he, the dear one far away, Was prayed for nightly; how with straining eyes

They waited his return, as for a festal day.

They ceased. Upon the pallid, vacant face

A deeper shadow fell, and with a weary cry

The dying soldier sobbed : "Give them Thy grace,

0 blessed Father; shield them till the storm goes by!" His voice grew faint, then ceased—but one who bent

Close to the fading lips heard this: "Good-night, my

dears,"

As it with death's cold chill and pains were bleat Sweet memories of home--dreams of life's brighter years.

And still the battle throbbed along the hills,

And still the dying and the dead in billows lay Along the slopes and by the crimson rills-

The night shades folding all in mantles dun and gray. There, where he fell, they scooped a shallow grave, And with her letter on his heart, so cold and calm, Left him to wait the roll-call of the brave,

The summons to receive the victor's crown and palm.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 1864.

A WORD FOR THE HOUR.

WHILE the great preparations for the campaign are proceeding let us not fall into the old and foolish error. General GRANT will have a large and trained army. He will have at his command all the military resources he requires. He has already the confidence of the people and the hearty support of the Government. He has the cause of the country, of humanity, and of civilization to fight for ; and he and his men will fight like men and Americans. On the other hand, he will be opposed by a skillful and tried soldier ; by a trained army, swelled by a remorseless conscription, fighting upon ground familiar to it, and for a cause which it has ardently espoused. The battle will be desperate, as the issues are momentous. But before it is joined, let us, as sensible men, remember how uncertain the event of every battle is, and not take leave of our common sense by declaring that we must and shall win. Unquestionably our cause will finally prevail, but only upon the condition that we show the qualities which compel final victory ; and we merely prove the want of those qualities by a blind and exulting confidence that we can not be defeated.

However desirable success may be, and however ample our preparation, those who say that, if we do not triumph in this or in any particular campaign, there will be a reaction of indignation menacing civil war among ourselves, say so merely for a mischievous purpose, and with a profound want of appreciation of the American character. For what does it mean ? If GRANT, for instance, is defeated, is it proposed to give up the war for the Union and to sue the rebels for such terms as they may vouchsafe ? Or is it intended that we shall concede our task to be impossible, and ourselves propose a separation? No, those who speak in this manner mean that they would prefer to take the risk of civil commotion here, rather than that the conduct of the war should remain in the civil and military hands that now control it.

The attempt is a party movement ingeniously made, and loyal men permit themselves to be parties to it when they insist that we must not allow ourselves to contemplate the possibility of failure in this campaign. Yet the device is as transparent as it is ingenious. For knowing that no truly loyal men would wish to remove GRANT, or SHERMAN, or THOMAS, or MEADE, or ROSECRANS, or FARRAGUT, or BURNSIDE, or PORTER, or BUTLER, or SMITH, from their present commands, seeing that they justly have the popular confidence, the game is this: to say constantly in advance, if GRANT succeeds, it is in spite of the Government: if he fails, it is because of the interference of the Government. In either case, it will be urged that the Administration is imbecile. And it is for this result that the "Democratic" managers are waiting. They declare in advance that his success is sure if only lie is let alone, in order to whet popular exasperation if the fortune of war goes against him. Should General GRANT succeed, these managers will pre-

sent him as the man who has saved the country both against the arms of the rebellion and the impotence of the Government. Should he fail, they will present General McCLELLAN as the man who represents a new and more promising policy, counting for support upon the same popular disappointment and disgust which elected Mr. SEYMOUR Governor of New York. This is the little game ; and every man plays into the hands of its managers who abandons himself to exulting and unreasonable confidence.

Let every faithful citizen bear steadily in mind that the Government and the Generals are now in accord ; that, even seconded by all the energy of the Administration, no General can have a patent of victory ; that if the rare military good fortune of the Lieutenant-General should desert him, it will neither be his fault, nor that of his soldiers, nor of the Government ; that his want of success will not change in the least the character or the necessity or the final issue of the contest ; that General McCLELLAN'S position toward the war and the cause will be exactly what it is now, and that his elevation to any influence in the country would be the practical abandonment of the struggle and the betrayal of the cause—not because he is a bad man or a traitor, but because he does not in the least comprehend the struggle, as his own Report and letters show ; and because he is in the hands of designing men without convictions of any kind, the recent political allies of the rebels, and the present silent or very doubtful friends of the Union in extremity.

Three years of fierce civil war, as they have made us sadder, should certainly make us wiser men. Editors may declare, as they did three years ago, that we shall dine in Richmond on the 4th of July, and that General GRANT needs only to strike one blow and he will break the back-bone of the rebellion. But events turn no such fine periods. We are to have varying fortunes in the war hereafter as heretofore. Its progress and promise are to be marked from month to month by the whole course of events and the growth of opinion, not by the issue of any single battle or even isolated campaign. Summer does not leap at once perfect from the winter snows. There are warm days in March, and then chill winds and frosts in April. Even May may have its biting air. But through frosts and chills and storms the summer is surely coming. 0 ye of little faith, could ye not watch one hour? Let us be men, not children, and then we shall be equal either to present victory or defeat.

MR. LONG AND MR. HARRIS.

THE principle in the case of these gentlemen is perfectly clear. There is a vast conspiracy against the Union and Government of the United States. Mr. LONG and Mr. HARRIS are legislators sworn to support both. They declare frankly that they are in favor of allowing them to be overthrown : for Mr. LONG says that we must recognize the Confederacy, and Mr. HARRIS frankly hopes that we shall not succeed in the war. Now, if these gentlemen are honest in saying so they confess that they can not, and do not wish to keep their oaths. For how can they legislate for the maintenance of what they declare can not be maintained at all, and ought not, in any case, to be maintained by force ? They acknowledge the success of the rebellion. They are, practically, rebels, since they pronounce for the dissolution of the Union, which is all that the rebels wish. If they are honest, and that may be granted, why should they not be taken at their word ?

They do not, indeed, as yet bear arms against the Government, nor did BRECKINRIDGE when he made similar speeches in Congress after the war began ; for he did not take arms until October, 1861. But if, as even Judge BARNARD allows, a man who discourages enlistments is traitorous, and may be properly punished, the House of Representatives, which is the judge of the qualifications of its own members, may surely expel two of them who honestly justify the attempt to overthrow its authority. It is true that consent to the overthrow may not. be so culpable as by force of arms to attempt it. But under these circumstances the moral distinction between the acts disappears. The accessory to a murder is hanged equally with the murderer himself. Nor, if they are expelled, are they punished for words spoken in debate, but for a practical complicity with the conspiracy, which, except for that speaking, could not be known.

The question becomes, then, merely one of expediency. But surely they should be expelled or left alone. In refusing to expel and at the same time declaring them to be unworthy members—that is, worthy of expulsion—the House stultifies itself. Suppose that either of the members had said upon the floor, " I have sent arms to our Southern brethren." They would be merely words spoken in debate. But would the House content itself with voting that the gentlemen were unworthy of their seats, and then proceed, with these gentlemen still voting, to legislate for the suppression of the rebellion? Now Mr. LONG and Mr. HARRIS deliberately acquiesce in the overthrow of the Government as a foregone conclusion. Can a House which really means to put down the rebellion by force, and which has a discretionary power of expul

sion by a vote of two-thirds, suffer such members to remain for the sole purpose of retarding and perplexing its action lest, if they are expelled, the right of free speech should seem to be violated ?

The fatuous case of Mr. QUINCY and Mr. CLAY in the debate upon the war of 1812 has been cited. But Mr. QUINCY, with all his bitter vehemence, professed himself as devoted as Mr. CLAY to the defense of the integrity of the country, and the maintenance of the Government intact. If he had declared his acquiescence in the overthrow of the Government, does any body suppose that Speaker CLAY would not have moved his expulsion, and been supported by the common-sense of the whole country ? It is not the policy of the war for the Union, nor the details of its conduct, nor the corruption and weakness which they might declare attended it ; but it is the object of the war, namely the maintenance of the Government and the Union, which Mr. LONG and Mr. HARRIS abandon. How can they, under their oaths, continue to be members of that Government? If the President should declare that he was convinced of the impossibility of success, and that he would sign no more bills for the prosecution of the war, ought the honesty of his conviction and the frankness of his speech to save him from removal? So in this case ; it is not a question of freedom of opinion or of speech. We are engaged in a war which must be prosecuted or abandoned. Congress represents a people which wishes it to go on. Its members swear to do all they can to promote that purpose. If any one of them says honestly, " I have changed my mind, and I can not keep my oath, because I believe success to be impossible," ought he not to wish, and ought not Congress to insist, that the question be referred to his constituents ? Then, if he were re-elected, it would be evident that he spoke their opinion. Until then it must be assumed, in such a crisis, that he does not. As for making them martyrs if they are expelled, and creating sympathy for the rebellion through sympathy for them, the case of VALLANDIGHAM shows that loyal men need not be troubled. That case is perfectly well understood by the people of this country, and this would not be less so.

JUDGE BARNARD'S CHARGES.

JUDGE BARNARD'S name has been lately brought before the public by a charge to the Grand Jury of the Oyer and Terminer, and by another charge against one of the editors of the Evening Post. The latter was immediately branded as false by the journal assailed, and we presume nobody believed or believes it, because character is even more convincing than some vehement assertions even from the bench.

The other charge, that to the Grand Jury, contains several wholesome truths which, had they not been hitherto uniformly despised and outraged by the political allies of the Judge, would have saved us from the war. The learned Justice declares that the right of free discussion is a cardinal condition of a republic. Nothing is truer. And because slavery can not coexist with it, slavery is incompatible with a republic. We congratulate the magistrate upon his perception, although it be somewhat tardy, of an elemental political truth.

But the Judge's charge was not so carefully pondered as it should have been. When a learned pundit announces that white is white, he should take great care not to say that it is black before he sits down. His Honor says, and very truly, in one part of his essay : "This is essential to the political freedom of a Republic that every citizen should have the full right to express his views on any political measure or any act of administration, and endeavor, by argument or persuasion, to bring others to adopt his views." But presently after be says that it is a traitorous act to induce and persuade men not to enlist. Why so ? If a man thinks the war wrong, and the acts of the Administration in prosecuting it unjustifiable, why, upon the Judge's own ground, may he not say so to his fellow-citizens in the hope of persuading them not to support those acts by enlisting in the army ? The learned Judge is guilty of a gross and absurd inconsistency.

The muddle in his Honor's mind is occasioned by his failure to remember that the Constitution provides for war as well as peace ; and that many things are lawful in the one condition which are not in the other. The most fundamental right of personal liberty, for instance, is arbitrarily suspended by the Constitution when rebellion or invasion requires its suspension. And the greater includes the less, your Honor. If your Honor's self may, in time of war, be constitutionally and summarily arrested by General Dix without the relief of the habeas corpus, not less may Mr. VALLANDIGHAM be silenced at the discretion of the military commander. It is very sharp practice, if the Court please ; but such is the nature of war, and such is the prevision and the provision of the Constitution.

The men who made the Constitution had just emerged from a war. They knew its necessities and conditions. They laid down the cardinal rights of citizens in peace ; but they were much too wise not to foresee that those rights might be appealed to in war to overthrow the very system which permanently secured them. They

foresaw VALLANDIGHAM and the whole gentle tribe of Copperheads, and they prescribed for the case.

The learned Judge is right in saying that to discourage enlistments for the Government when it is struggling in civil war is traitorous. But it is only because in such an emergency the citizen has not the full right " to endeavor by argument or persuasion to bring others to adopt his views." Of course this formidable but necessary power of summary suppression must be exercised with discretion, for the people watch it closely, and hold the authorities responsible. But not the less is it expressly Constitutional, and a fundamental necessity for every government at war. By our own Government it has been wielded so temperately and honestly, that even in Ohio, where its exercise provoked the loudest opposition, the Government was sustained by an enormous majority of a hundred thousand voters.

THE AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION.

ON the 8th of April, 1864, at the close of the third year of a civil war produced by the tragical and futile effort to unite in one peaceful government the principle of the fullest popular freedom and of the most abject despotism, the Senate of the United States, by a vote of thirty-eight to six, proposed to amend the Constitution in the manner itself provides, for the purpose of prohibiting slavery in the United States. That nothing might be wanting to the moral grandeur and dignity of the occasion, the resistance offered to this truly American act by the truly un-American advocates of human slavery was as contemptible as the system itself is revolting.

Of the six Senators who voted against the resolution four made brief speeches. Mr. POWELL, of Kentucky, said that if there had been no Abolitionists there would have been no rebellion : an inanity too incredible. Mr. SAULSBURY, of Delaware, proposed to secure liberty of speech and of the press; and reestablish the principles of the Missouri Compromise—which was a proposition to feed a fire with water. For how can slavery and free speech coexist? Mr. DAVIS, of Kentucky, declared the constitutional abolition of slavery a wicked and unjust act, against which he was aware the protest of an angel would be of no avail ; forgetting that the only angel who would have wished to protest was named LUCIFER, and fell from heaven. Mr. M'DOUGALL, of California, announced that he was devoted to human freedom, and therefore, as a true friend of man, should vote in favor of slavery.

And this was the expiring gasp in the United States Senate of the infernal iniquity to whose service the clear, cold casuistry and subtle sophistry of CALHOUN was formerly devoted ; before which WEBSTER used to bow ; from whose snare the human-hearted CLAY could never break away; which, by the universal obsequiousness of the American people, had succeeded in coiling its horrid folds around all our liberties, and from whose fatal embrace this war is the struggle of the national life to escape. Yet that final escape is worth the war. The innumerable hearts that are broken, the countless homes that are desolate in our own land, and the earnest friends in other countries who understand the scope of the struggle, will own that when the great act initiated by the Senate is completed, the costly sacrifice of youth and hope and love is not in vain, and that the future of equal justice which this measure secures is well bought by all the blood and sorrow of the war.

The issue is at last openly joined. If the House fail to concur by the necessary two-thirds vote, the Congressional elections of next autumn will turn upon the question of the Constitutional Amendment, and the vote of this spring shows what the result will be.

"MEAN PETTIFOGGING."

THE feebleness and poverty of the Opposition in Congress are in nothing more conspicuous than in the tacit recognition of Mr. Cox as its leader upon the floor. It is natural, indeed; for as the Opposition clings to the defense and the protection of slavery, so its orator displays in debate, whatever may be the amenities of his private life, the unqualified insolence of the plantation ranters ; and it is surprising, that the Union members should suffer themselves for a moment to be badgered and dragooned by this gentleman, the personal offensiveness of whose manner in debate is not relieved by any weight or cogency of argument, or by the impression of any profound patriotic conviction.

Why should a man like General GARFIELD, for instance, whose devotion to the Constitution and the country has been tried and proved by fire, bandy words for an instant with Mr. Cox upon the question of their comparative regard for the Constitution? Mr. Cox was the chief supporter of Mr. VALLANDIGHAM for Governor of Ohio. Could his position he more clearly defined? Or could any amount of loud talk in Congress about his overpowering regard for the Constitution obscure that position? What was the last object for which he obstreperously professed his respect for that instrument ? It was (Next Page)


 

 

  

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