Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

have gone to Virginia to confer with the Vice-President of the Confederate States. Shall we say, then, that there is no government in the Confederate States ? Shall we say that for the first time in the history of the world there is a community without a government ? Shall we say that the Confederates are in that respect worse off than the tribes of equatorial Africa ? Shall we say in effect that the Confederate States are in the position of terra incognita, of lands that are owned by nobody, not even by their inhabitants, and that the said lands will be the lawful prize of those who first obtain possession? Yet this is the necessary deduction from non-recognition after the 4th of March next. The government of Washington has clearly no claim to rule over the Southern States ; and, if we add that the Confederate government does not exist, we unequivocally assert that the Confederate States constitute a territory that will lawfully belong to any government which can obtain possession thereof." The Federal government having taken possession of them by the sword, they are now in the position of conquered dependencies or provinces, and are at the mercy and sovereign will of the powers that be at Washington.

THE REIGN OF TERROR

As the curtain falls on the appalling scenes of the war, and the horrible tragedy at Washington in the

assassination of Lincoln, the electric wires thrill us with the intelligence that the Federal AttorneyGeneral Speed has made a highly important decision on the terms of the capitulation of General Lee. In reply to a letter of the Secretary of War relating to these points, he decides,—“First, That the rebel officers who surrendered to General Grant have no homes in the loyal States, and have no right to come to places where their homes were in the loyal States prior to going into the rebellion. Second, That persons in the civil service of the rebellion, or who have otherwise given it support, comfort, and aid, and were residents of rebel territory, have no right to return to Washington under that stipulation. Third, That rebel officers certainly have no right to be wearing their uniforms in any of the loyal States." The Attorney-General adds, " that such rebel officers having done wrong in coming to the loyal States, are but adding insult to injury in wearing their uniforms; that they have as much right to bear the traitor's flag through the streets of a loyal city as to wear a traitor's garb; and that the stipulation of surrender permits no such thing, and the wearing of such uniform is an act of hostility against the Goverment.”

A bottom was necessary for the absolutism of the Federal government before a pathway could be opened for the exercise of despotic power over the once sovereign States of America. During the progress of the war irresponsible power had been freely

made use of on the basis of military necessity, but now, for the first time in the history of America, civil law is evoked to sustain the supremacy of the Federal government to kill what Wendell Phillips, Esq. now calls “caste, dangerous state rights, and secession,” the exercise of which would have sent him to the scaffold, or banished him into exile at every period of his public life prior to the existence of the war, and even down to the second year of its fearful progress.

The creation and stretch of the Federal prerogative, in connection with the usurpation of despotic power, is immediately followed by an announcement from President Johnson that “the rebel leaders must be punished and impoverished, and their social position destroyed. Union men in the Confederacy should be remunerated from the pockets of those who have brought suffering upon the country.”

This is highly sensational, but what follows is more startling and exciting still :

“NEW YORK, May 4. Morning “ President Johnson has issued the following proclamation :

Whereas it appears from evidence in the bureau of the Military Department, that Mr Lincoln's murder and Mr Seward's attempted assassination were incited, concerted, and procured by Jefferson Davis, Jacob Thompson, Clement C. Clay, Beverly Tucker, George N. Sanders, W. C. Cleary,

and other rebel traitors against the United States Government, harboured in Canada, the following rewards for the arrest of the said persons within the limits of the United States are therefore offered :—100,000 dollars for Davis, 10,000 dollars for Cleary, and 25,000 dollars for each of the others.'"

The reign of terror, therefore, is fully inaugurated, with its pains, penalties, and prison-houses. Henceforth the order of the day is to be bogus pluts, false witnesses, and military or judicial murders, associated with the crack of the rifle, or the creak of the scaffold, except the people awake from their stupor and delusion and stop these freaks of the village tailor, now made famous by his sudden elevation to the throne of democracy.

The New York Chamber of Commerce, feeling the necessity of immediate action, has passed resolutions in favour of clemency and magnanimity towards the South.

On the 23d of April Wendell Phillips, Esq., also delivered his "Lesson of the Hour," which he called "treason," in the Fremont Temple, Boston. Addressing the audience as follows, Mr. Phillips said, -"What shall we say as to the punishment of rebels ? The air is thick with threats of vengeance. I admire the motive which prompts these. But let us remember no cause, however infamous, was ever crushed by punishing its advocates and abettors. All history proves this. There is no class of men

base and coward enough, no matter what their views and purpose, to make the policy of vengeance successful. In bad causes, as well as good, it is still true that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. We cannot prevail against this principle of human nature. And again, with regard to the dozen chief rebels, it will never be a practical question whether we shall hang them. Those not now in Europe will soon be there. Indeed, after parolling the bloodiest and guiltiest of all, Robert Leem (loud applause) —there would be little-fitness in hanging any lesser wretch. The only punishment which ever crushes a cause is that which its leaders necessarily suffer in consequence of the new order of things made necessary to prevent the recurrence of their sin. It was not the blood of two peers and thirty commoners which England shed after the rebellion of 1715, or that of five peers and twenty commoners after the rising of 1745, which crushed the House of Stuart. Though the fight had lasted only a few inonths, those blocks and gibbets gave Charles his only chance to recover. But the confiscated lands of his adherents, and the new political arrangement of the Highlands,-just, and recognised as such, because necessary,—these quenched his star for ever. Our rebellion has lasted four years.

Government has exchanged prisoners, and acknowledged its belligerent rights. After that gibbets are out of the question. A thousand men rule the rebellion-are the

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »