State Documents on Federal Relations/35
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Connecticut on the Conscription Bill.
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35. Connecticut on the Conscription Bill.
October Session, 1814.
Owing to the exigencies of the war, the administration in the fall of 1814 proposed the adoption of a conscription scheme, which was characterized by the opposition as grievously oppressive and unconstitutional. A bill, based upon the plan drawn by the Secretary of War, was introduced in Congres, and while still pending in the House of Representatives, the Legislature of Connecticut passed the following threatening resolutions. The conscription bill failed, but Congress adopted the Bill in regard to the Enlistment of Minors, December 10, 1814. (U. S. Stat. at Large, III, 146, 147.) in consequence of this act the Connecticut Legislature at the special session in January, 1815, passed An Act to secure the rights of Parents, Masters and Guardians, declaring the aforesaid act of Congress "repugnant to the spirit of the constitution of the United States, and an unauthorized interference with the laws and rights of this State," and requiring judges to discharge on habeas corpus all minors enlisted without the consent of their parents or guardians, subjecting to fine and imprisonment any person concerned in such enlistment who should remove any such minor out of the State. (Public Statute Law of Connecticut, Bk. II, ch. IV, 189, 190.) A similar law was enacted by Massachusetts, February 27, 1815. (Laws of Mass., 1812–15, 640, 641.)
References: The text is found in the Connecticut Courant, Hartford, November 15, 1814; also in Niles, VII, Sup. 107, 108; Dwight, 336, 337. For general account, see Adams, VIII, 265–280; Dwight, 309–337; Hildredth, VI, 529–534; 554; McMaster, IV, 240–246; V, 412.
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And whereas the principles of the plan and bill aforesaid, are, in the opinion of this assembly, not only intolerably burdensome and oppressive, but utterly subversive of the rights anad liberties of the people of this state, and the freedom, sovereignty, and independence of the same, and inconsistent with the principles of the constitution of the United States.
And whereas it will become the imperious duty of the legislature of this state to exert themselves to ward off a blow so fatal to the liberties of a free people—
Resolved by this Assembly, That in case the plan and bill aforesaid, or any other bill on that subject, containing the principles aforesaid, shall be adopted, and assume the form of an act of Congress, the Governor of this state is hereby requested forthwith to convoke the General Assembly; and, to avoid delay, he is hereby authorized and requested to issue his proclamation, requiring the attendance of the members thereof at such time and place as he may appoint, to the end that opporunity may be given to consider what measures may be adopted to secure and preserve the rights and liberties of the people of this state, and the freedom, sovereignty and independence of the same.