The Old Guard/Volume 1/Issue 1/A Traitor Congress and a Traitor President
Thad. Stevens, the leader of the administration party in Congress, in a recent speech before that body, on the establishmesit of a new State within the territory of Virginia, used the following language:
- "I say, then, that we may admit West Virginia as a new State, not by virtue of any provision of the Constitution, but under our absolute power which the laws of war give us in the circumstances in which we are placed. I shall vote for this bill upon that theory, and upon that alone; for I will not stultify myself by supposing that we have any warrant in the Constitution for this proceeding.
- This talk of restoring the Union as it was, under the Constitution as it is, is one of the absurdities which I have heard repeated until I have become about sick of it. This Union can never be restored as it was. There are many things which render such an event impossible. This Union shall never, with my consent, be restored under the Constitution as it is, with slavery to be protected by it."
No one doubts that this is the sentiment and the programme of the administration. We are told, "this Union shall never be restored under the Constitution as it is." We have not for a long time doubted that such is the determination of Mr. Lincoln and the whole party in power. But had they announced their real designs in the beginning, they could never raised a respectable army for such a purpose.—Mr. Lincoln had no right to call soldiers into the field for such an object. And unless he backs squarely down from this unconstitutional use of the army, where will he get another soldier?—Will the States of New Jersey and New York permit any men to be drafted from the militia, for an object which is a confessed violation of the Constitution and the laws? The objects for which the State militia may be called into the service of the Federal Government, are expressly named and carefully limited by the Constitution. If the President attempts to use the militia for unconstitutional purposes; it is clearly the duty of the States to recall their troops from the field, and to refuse to allow any further drafting, until the administration returns to the Constitution and the laws. It is within the power of State Executives and Legislatures to force a usurping President to abandon such a career of crime, by withholding and withdrawing the State troops. A Governor who should allow the citizens of his State to be drafted, and dragged into the army for the avowed purpose of destroying the Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is, would be sure, in the end, to receive the execration and curses of the people, and would finally fall into the same hated page of history with the obscene joker, who thus abuses the confidence and the patriotism of a loyal people. The duty of the Governors is plain. They are to promptly respect all constitutional requirements of the Federal administration. But they are not to obey an unlawful demand. Suppose the President should issue an order for drafting the troops of New Jersey, for the avowed purpose of abolishing the marriage laws in the State of Pennsylvania. Would such an order be obeyed by the State of New Jersey ?—No, it would be resisted even to the point of the bayonet, if it came to that. But we are told there is rebellion against the laws of the Union. Then it is lawful to call out troops to enforce the laws of the Union; but it is not lawful to call them out to destroy the Union. But we have satisfied ourselves that we cannot enforce the laws of the Union.—And so you have made up your minds to destroy the Union! Because you find you are not strong enough to administer all the laws of the Constitution, you have determined to destroy that sacred instrument altogether!—Because some deluded men say—we wish no longer to live within the temple of the Union, you have set yourselves to work to pull the whole temple down, so that nobody shall ever live in it any more! That is your position, 0 ye Catalines of Congress! Shall we send our sons to fight to destroy the Union and the Constitution, because some have proclaimed that they are tired of living under their protection? No, we will not. There must be another kind of legislation in Congress—another kind of proclamation from the hand of our law-defying and grammar-despising President—before States which are truly loyal to the Government of our fathers will send more troops into the field.—We have been told by the apologists for Mr. Lincoln, that the radical, traitor Governors have coerced the President to do wrong. Then let the conservative, loyal Governors coerce him back again to do right. If the radical traitors would not suffer State troops to move forward until the President came out with a series of unconstitutional proclamations, let the conservative patriots withhold their forces until those unconstitutional schemes are abandoned. If, as we have been told, this wretched man, the President, has been forced to proclaim against the Constitution, let him, by all means, be forced to re-proclaim in its favor, if rascals have compelled him to do wrong, let honest men compel him to do right. If the President is an honest man, he will rejoice to be forced out of the clutches of the disunion radicals, If he does not agree with the Chairman of his Committee of Ways and Means, when he says—"The Union shall never, with my consent, be restored under the Constitution as it is," let him come out by proclamation and say so, and we shall be among the first to rush to his support, in every lawful endeavor to restore the Union under the Constitution as it is.
But, on the other hand, if he agrees with Mr. Stevens, that the "Union shall never be restored under the Constitution," let us look to see who will dare to move any further to aid him in his work of treason and destruction. Let us begin to prepare epitaphs of eternal shame for the tombs of the traitors who dare lift up their hands, with Abraham Lincoln and his fellow-conspirators, against the Union and the Constitution! The terrible Danton once thundered into the French Assembly: "Room, there! Room in hell for Maxamillian Robespierre!"—Read, 0 conspirators, your epitaph.