Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/20

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18

exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism."

And says Chief Justice Chase, in the same case, p. 136-7:

"Neither President, nor Congress, nor courts, possess any power not given by the Constitution."

So that the issuing of that proclamation (which, it is also worthy of note, did not even attempt to emancipate all the slaves in all the States, as generally supposed, but only those in ten named States, and only in certain parts of some of these) was a palpable violation of the Constitution and of Mr. Lincoln's oath of office; and the only plea on which the friends of Mr. Lincoln can justify his conduct is the plea of "necessity," the last refuge of every tyrant.

DUPLICITY TOWARDS VIRGINIA COMMISSIONERS.

But before we refer to other violations of the Constitution we propose to consider some acts of deceit and duplicity practiced by Mr. Lincoln, or to which he was a party, on representatives of the South.

After the secession of seven of the Southern States and the formation of the Southern Confederacy, with its capital at Montgomery, and after the failure of the "Peace Conference" inaugurated by Virginia in her most earnest efforts to prevent war between the sections, and during the sessions of the Virginia Convention that body determined to send commissioners to Washington to ascertain, if possible, what course Mr. Lincoln intended to pursue towards, the seceded States, since it was impossible to determine this course from the ambiguous language employed in his inaugural address. These commissioners, the Honorables William Ballard Preston, Alexander H. H. Stuart and George W. Randolph, went to Washington and had an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and an account of that interview will be found in the first volume "Southern Historical Society Papers," at page 443. At page 452, Mr. Stuart says:

"I remember that he (Lincoln) used this homely expression, 'If I do that (recognize the Southern Confederacy), what will become of my revenue? I might as well shut up housekeeping at once.'"

But, says Mr. Stuart, "his declarations were distinctly pacific, and he expressly disclaimed all purpose of war."