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Under the resolution of the House we have examined witnesses in forty-three cases of arrests made in our State, and accompany. ing this is the evidence laid before us in those cases.
Several matters suggest themselves to our minds in connection with the facts thus developed-matters which, in the judgment of the Committee, deeply affect the liberty and vital welfare of the people of Indiana. Acts have been perpetrated, and omissions of duty suffered by high officers, which, if left unnoticed and unrebuked, would exhibit to the world a shameless want of fidelity on the part of the representatives of the people toward their constituents, and if such lack of fidelity should be sanctioned, it would go far toward establishing that which appears to be assumed as true, by those who have for two years controled affairs, namely, that the people have ceased to take an interest in the mode and manner in which the government ought to be administered. In short, that it is no longer a government of the people, through their agents, the chosen officers of the law--but a government in which the servant has become the master, and the superior the slave.
The tendency of the legislation and acts of those placed in power by the people for the last two years, has been to curtail the liberties and to crush the spirit of independence of those who have placed them in position. The many acts of arbitrary power shown by this evidence, taken in connection with the attempt by the Congress and President of the United States, to shield from all responsibility, those who in the very wantonness of power have
been guilty of such unwarranted acts, make a dark chapter in the mournful history which is to be written of the demoralization of the pụblic men, and the downward tendency of the public morals of the times.
It must be a truth that if our sires refused to submit to the wanton acts of the minions of a king, who was the descendant of a long line of rulers, whom they and their ancestors had been educated to respect, obey, and reverence, that public virtue must have greatly declined, yea, that it is almost extinct, if we, their sons, will quietly crouch down to receive the lash, and hold out our hands for the fetters with which the lowest subordinates of a public servant would degrade us—for the President of the United States, by its Constitution, is but the servant of the sovereign people.
Has it indeed come to this, that we must speak of our public servants with bated breath, and that we must approach with unsandled feet when we would come into their presence to seek a redress of wrongs ? Are the laws of nature to be reversed, and has the mere creature become greater than the creator? Can we no longer set forth our grievances, either real or fancied, as our fathers did, in the immortal declaration of their independence ?
The arrests that have been investigated by the Committee may be resolved into four classes :
Second. For treasonable practices.
In point of fact, it will be seen by every intelligent, candid person, who may take the pains to read this evidence, and who will read it with a desire to arrive at the truth, that nine out of every ten of those who were arrested fell under the head of the fourth class, and the remainder were taken into custody upon frivolous pretexts that could have been dissipated in a very short explanation before any intelligent, unprejudiced tribunal, if permission had been
granted to that end. ' Indeed, it is scarcely necessary to offer arguments to show this fact, since those in power have conceded the whole question, by discharging nearly all the parties arrested, without even the semblance of a hearing or trial. In but few instances were such discharges made, until the victims of misapplied power had suffered great inconvenience, expense, and in many cases loss of health. The utter falsity of the pretended reasons for arrests
were thus admitted, and the innocence of the sufferers reluctantly declared by their persecutors.
The great and controling motive of those who have resorted to such an arbitrary course toward the people, appears to have been a desire to prevent investigation into their acts, in the first instance; so that if the people would patiently endure it, they might go on gradually encroaching upon their simplicity in the exercise of unauthorized acts, until they should not be even shocked at the assumption of absolute and supreme power, if in the end it should be thought necessary by those in office for the attainment of their ultimate purposes. If this is not the correct reason for the acts complained of, we can see no cause for the arrests being confined to one political party alone. Many of these arrests, indeed nearly all of them, were made before the Administration had progressed to the length desired by the ultra Abolitionists; and because of the apparently conservative tendencies of Mr. Lincoln in the earlier periods of hïs term of office, he and his policy had been more bitterly opposed and denounced by members of the Abolition party, than by those Democrats who were arrested. No Abolitionist who thus indulged in denunciations of the policy of the conduct of the war was arrested, but the least offense in that respect by a Democrat was met by the stern hand of power. Why was this? Two reasons present themselves : First, without doubt it was the intention of Mr. Lincoln, from the beginning of the war, gradually but ultimately, to lead it on to the purposes of emancipation; and he would thus, at the proper time, fall into the arms of the Abolitionists—therefore, it would not do to offend and alienate them in advance. Secondly, the history of Democracy shows that they have always been in favor of the greatest freedom of opinion, and of granting the largest measures of personal liberty to the individual members of society. The course marked out would not admit of the expression, or even possession of this kind of liberty. It is, and always has been, in antagonism to arbitrary power. For hundreds of years, a war has been going on between this Democratic principle of individual liberty, and its opposite, the concentration of such liberty in the hands of a few only, at the expense of the many. To be free thus to seize the reins of power unlawfully, it became necessary to silence men who had been educated in this school of freedom and equality. Those who spoke boldly, as freemen ought to do, were seized, deprived of liberty, and refused a trial, under the pretext that they had been guilty of disloyal
practices; not with the expectation of convicting them, but with the hope that such acts would deter others from canvassing with like freedom the acts of usurpation of those in authority.
In carefully considering this testimony, the Committee can not avoid the conclusion, that the acts thereby shown, clearly demonstrate a kind of morbid fear of the people upon the part of the rulers. They appear to apprehend that the course being pursued does not meet with public approbation. For instance, a word said against the President, or his mode of managing affairs, in the
alarm of subordinates, is by them construed to be a disloyal prac- tice, and the offender, if a Democrat, is immediately arrested and put where he can do no more harm.
In England, we believe, they once had a statute declaring it treason of a certain grade for a man to ó imagine the death of the king,"
and one subject was convicted under this statute for wishing the 'king had a buck’s horis in his belly, on the ground that he could not have had them there and lived, consequently the man must have wished for his death. We laugh at the folly of such a law; when the question is put directly to us, and yet for many months we have been submitting to a vague and unsettled proclamation in regard to disloyal practices, as construed by young, ambitious adventurers, strutting their brief hour upon the stage, without identity and without responsibility. We are indeed a patient people--of long forbearancefull of brotherly love, and overflowing with the milk of human kindness. In the opinion of one A. B. Jetmore, who resides in Hartford City, Blackford county, who states, on his oath, that he is a lawyer, it is a great crime and burning shame for any one to speak or argue against the views or policy of the National Executive.” How precipitant and how deep is the descent, in the scale of law and in the doctrines of political liberty, from Mansfield and Blackstone, Marshall and Taney, Blackford and Dewey, to Abraham B. Jetmore, Esq. He says he used to be a Democrat. Poor fellow! he is now a convicted spy upon his neighbors, who have put bread into his mouth, and clothes upon his back. Doubtless he has already received his little price. The Committee would recommend him to the clemency of the latter-day Abraham, whom he considers so far superior to all laws, institutions, and constitutions, whether civil or divine.
CASE OF JUDGE CONSTABLE.
But leaving these questions, we propose to look more in detail at the classes of cases presented; but before doing so, we desire to call special attention to the case of Judge Constable. He is not a resident of Indiana, but he was brought into the State and imprisoned here. We do this for the reason that the principle involved in his case is closely connected with civil liberty itself. What is it that distinguishes civilization from barbarism? The one is established upon conditional rules--wise, humane, determinate laws; the other is the sudden growth of prejudice, selfishness, and passion, affording shelter to-day and bringing swift destruction tomorrow. Upon the just administration of the conventional rules and prescribed laws upon which civilization is built, depends its highest degree of perfection. All writers agree that to insure this end magistrates of the law should be learned, independent, unbiased, and honest; and thus qualified, they must be left to act freely. No man could thus act if, for an honest error of judgment, he should be subjected to penalties. Every beginner in the study of law knows this. And why is it? Because of the fallibility of the human mind. No man is infallible. A judge must decide one way or another upon questions presented to him. He has no choice as to that. He may decide wrong. Superior courts are instituted to correct his decisions if he does. The imprisonment, or even worse punishment of the judge, would not reverse that . judgment. And further, no honest, upright man would, for a moment, hold a judicial office with the possibility of penalties, either civil or criminal, attaching to an error of judgment. For these, among other reasons, it is a settled and known principle of legal jurisprudence, that a magistrate or judge can not be made to : respond, either criminally or in damages, in a civil suit, because of any official decision he may honestly make. This is to support his dignity and authority, and to draw veneration to his person, and submission to his judgment. In support of this theory, the committee would refer to the following standard English and American authorities: Co. Litt. 294; 2 Just. 422; 2 Dall. R. 160; 1 Yeates' R. 443; 2 N. & McC. 168; 1 Day. R. 315; 1 Root R. 211; 3 Caines' R. 170; 5 John. R. 282; 9 John. R. 395; 11 John. R. 150; 3 Marsh. R. 76; 1 South. R. 74; 1 N. H. Rep. 374; 2 Bay. 1, 69; 8 Wend. 468; 3 Marsh R. 76.
If it were otherwise, judges would be the mere tools of those in