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Excerpts from the debate on the 13th amendment

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by unionblue, May 3, 2013.

  1. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    From a speech from the Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, Second Session, by Congressman Mallory, January 9, 1865:

    "...Sir, I said that I was not to be led into an elaborate discussion of this question; and I will not be, although the field opens out wide before us. We have had this question presented to us once before. At the last session of Congress this proposed amendment to the Constitution was introduced by the distinguished gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Ashley,] who now fathers it. It failed then to receive the requisite vote of two thirds of this body. Why renew it now? Why bring it up again, on this motion to reconsider that vote? Does the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Ashley] suppose that inducements, arguments, reasons, influences have been brought to bear upon the minds of members of this body to induce them to act now in a manner directly different from their action on that occasion? What are those arguments? Where are those reasons for doing now what we refused to do then? They have not been produced in this debate. If they exist they are outside of the legitimate subjec-matter which is before us. There may be motives moving gentlemen to do now what they refused to do then. But if there be, they are hidden from my view; if not impalpable they are invisible.

    The President of the United States pays us a very high compliment indeed in his last annual message. He calls upon this Congress, before its expiring hour, to reconsider its action upon this question, and to do now what we refused to do in the last session. What reason does he propose to us for that change? What arguments does he produce in favor of it now that he and others did not adduce at the time this action was before urged upon us? None at all. He simply says: "Gentlemen, it will be done by the next Congress, and as the result is inevitable, as three fourths of the next House of Representatives will be in favor of it, why postpone the result? Why defer it longer? Why not accept your fate and bow to it submissively?" He asks us to abandon our principles, to give up our convictions, and yet in almost the same sentence he says, "If you want a man as President who will do otherwise than I have done on the slavery question you must find him and put him here, for I shall not change my opinions." Are we not as honestly convinced that we are right, and were right then, as the President of the United States is convinced that he is right? Have we not the same right, and is it not equally our duty to act on our convictions, as it is his right and his duty to act on his convictions? I know of no obligation resting upon a member of this House to change his views at the bidding of the President of the United States, or "any other in authority," not resting on the President himself to change his mind at the dictation of Congress; ye he says he cannot change, but the gentlemen of the House of Representatives can, and he hopes they will. Well, I fear some of them will. The wish or order of the President is very potent. He can punish and reward. I repeat that the only potent influence I have seen brought to bear upon this House to induce them to change their action of the last session is this request of the President of the United States..."

    Unionblue
     

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  3. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Thaddeus Stevens, from a speech given on January 13, 1865, Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, Second Session, pg. 265-266:

    ABOLITION OF SLAVERY--AGAIN.

    Mr. BALDWIN, of Massachusetts, obtained the floor.

    Mr. STEVENS. "I do not know who has the floor, but I should be glad if I could have, now that I am up, ten minutes of some gentleman's time.

    Mr. BALDWIN, of Massachusetts. "I will yield the gentleman a few minutes of my time."

    Mr. STEVENS. "I will detain the House but a few minutes. I see, upon looking at the Globe of yesterday, that my distinguished colleague on the Committee of Ways and Means from Ohio, [Mr. PENDLETON,] if I understand his language aright--and he always speaks with "classic accuracy"--has exonerated those in arms in the rebel States from the responsibility of this bloody war and placed it upon the shoulders of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, (myself,) and those who act and think with him in this House.

    Sir, that is a grave charge, coming especially from a gentleman who seeks one of the highest places in this nation, and who may possibly receive a few votes for it; and it is therefore, I think, proper that my position, and the position of those who act with me, with regard to this question and our responsibility for the cause of this war, should be in a few summary words set forth in connection with this debate."

    Mr. PENDLETON. "I only desire that the gentleman shall quote the language I used in immediate connection with the interpretation which he is giving it."

    Mr. STEVENS. "The gentleman said--"Let him be careful, test when the passions of these times be passed away, and the historian shall go back to discover where was the original infraction of the Constitution, he may find that sin lies at the door of others than the people now in arms."

    This was addressed to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. STEVENS,] to the gentleman from Rhode Island, [Mr. JENCKES,] and others who have acted and thought with me. I infer from this, if I can understand the "classical accuracy" of the gentleman, that he means that we, and not they, were the cause of this war.

    Mr. Speaker, that charge, as I have stated, is a grave one, and if true ought to induce us, not only to feel great regret, but deep remorse for our conduct. What, then, up to the time of the breaking out of this rebellion, was the position of "the gentleman from Pennsylvania," and those who acted with him upon the subject of slavery, that caused this war? I beg but a few moments to state it.

    From my earliest youth I was taught to read the Declaration of Independence and to revere its sublime principles. As I advanced in life and became somewhat enabled to consult the writings of the great men of antiquity, I found in all their works which have survived the ravages of time and come down to the present generation, one unanimous denunciation of tyranny and of slavery, and eulogy of liberty. Homer AEschylus the great Greek tragedian, Cicero, Hesiod, Virgil, Tacitus, and Sallust, in immortal language, all denounced slavery as a thing which took away half the man and degraded human beings, and sang peans in the noblest strains to the goddess of liberty. And my hatred of this infernal institution and my love of liberty were further inflamed as I saw the inspired teaching of Socrates and the divine inspirations of Jesus.

    Being fixed in these principles, immovably and immutably, I took my stand among my fellow citizens, and on all occasions, whether in public or in private, in season and, if there could be such a time, out of season, I never hesitated to express those ideas and sentiments, and when I first went into public assemblies, forty years ago, I uttered this language. I have done it amid the pelting and hooting of mobs, but I never quailed before the infernal spirit, and I hope I never shrank from the responsibility of my language.

    When, thirty years ago, I entered the Legislature of the State which I now in part represent, I carried with me the same felling and the same determination; for this feeling grew with my growth and strengthened with my strength, but I thank God it has not decayed with enfeebling age.

    Carrying into that body these smae feelings, unanimous Democratic party to respond to them in the strongest resolution that I could draw. The noble Governor, the first that our party elected in these times, Governor Riner, who is now spending an honored old age in retirement, in the first message that had come since 1780 on that subject, denounced the dark spirit of slavery.

    When, fifteen years ago, I was honored with a seat in this body, it was dangerous to talk against this institution, a danger which gentlemen now here will never be able to appreciate. Some of us, however, have experienced it; my friend from Illinois, on my right [Mr. WASHBURNE] has. And yet, sir, I did not hesitate, in the midst of bowie-knives and revolvers and howling demons upon the other side of the House, to stand here upon the other side of the House, to stand here and denounce this infamous institution in language which possibly now, on looking at it, I might deem intemperate, but which I then deemed necessary to rouse the public attention and cast odium upon the worst institution upon earth, one which is a disgrace to man and would be an annoyance to the infernal spirits.

    Mr. Speaker, while I thus denounced it and uttered my sentiments in favor of universal freedom everywhere, I found in the Constitution of my country what I construed, whatever others may think, as a prohibition from touching slavery where it existed; and through all my course I recognized and bowed to a provision in that Constitution which I always regarded as its only blot; and I challenge the scrutiny of my respected colleague on the Committee of Ways and Means, or any other gentleman, through all the records of utterances in this House, to find one single motion or one single word which claimed on our part to touch slavery in the States where it existed. We admitted that it was there, protected by that instrument. We claimed that in the Territories we had full power over it, and in the District of Columbia, and I, with those who acted with me, could not hesitate as to what our duty required in excluding it from the free soil of the country and confining it to the spots it already polluted. I claimed the right to abolish it in the District of Columbia, as Congress was the only Legislature on earth that could touch it here. I heard the great man of the West once say that it was a sin and shame to believe that there was no power on earth that could abolish it over every inch of ground in the world. But, sir, I did not claim early to act upon it here, but I rather, proposed to let it rest until a more propitious moment should arrive before we acted upon it..."

    ---More to follow...

    Unionblue
     
  4. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Speech of Thaddeus Stevens continued from above...

    "...Such, sir, was my position, and the position of the party with which I acted in this Hall--not disturbing slavery where the Constitution protected it, but abolishing it wherever we had the constitutional power, and prohibiting its further extension. I claimed the right then, as I claim the right now, to denounce it everywhere, even in foreign lands, so that if such language could anywhere affect public sentiment it might do so. I claimed the right then, as I claim it now, to hedge it into the smallest space; but no man with whom Iacted ever proposed to violate the Constitution for the purpose of touching slavery.

    So much on that point. One other word, not directly on that. The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. PENDLETON] says that I go on the maxim that "what is broken in one thing is broken in all," and that hence, if there was one infraction of the Constitution it was dissolved. That is the coinage of the gentleman's own fertile brain. The Constitution may be violated in many parts, and remain intact in all others. The gentleman had, perhaps naturally enough, confounded what I had said with what he finds in the sacred book, where it is said that a violation of the least of the commandments is a violation of all. It was not I that said it, but another much greater.

    Ingenious gentlemen argue, and many honest men will delude their consciences in voting, in favor of still sustaining the institution on the ground that the Constitution does not allow an amendment on this point. They go on the ground that the subject of slavery has not been intrusted to us by the States, and that therefore it is reserved. Now, as the Constitution now stands, that is true. But we are not now inquiring whether we have jurisdiction over slavery. We are inquiring whether the States have granted to us the power of amendment. That is the subject--not the subject of slavery, not the subject of religion, not the subject of anything else--but, have the States yielded to Congress the right to amend? If they have, then the whole question is answered. Not only have they granted that power, but wherever they intended to except anything from the power of amendment, they have said so. My learned friend knows that when a statute excepts certain things, everything else is meant by it. Will the Clerk read the clause of the Constitution?"

    The Clerk read, as follows:

    "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided taht no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808 shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."

    Mr. Stevens. "No lawyer who wishes to understand it can deny that, with the exceptions contained in that proviso, the power to amend the Constitution is unlimited. There is no subject on earth relating to Government that you cannot touch. Nowhere in that original instrument did the States grant the right of legislating on the subject of religion; and yet the very first amendment that was made under this power refers to the subject of religion and the freedom of speech, showing the fallacy of the arguments of those who say you can amend only the subject granted to Congress.

    Perhaps I ought not to occupy so much time, and I will only say one word further. So far as the appeals of the learned gentleman [Mr. PENDLETON] are concerned, in his pathetic winding up, I will be willing to take my chance, when we all molder in the dust. He may have his epitaph written, if it be truly written, "Here rests the ablest and most pertinacious defender of slavery and opponent of liberty;" and I will be satisfied if my epitaph shall be written thus: "Here lies one who never rose to any eminence, and who only courted the low ambition to have it said that he had striven to ameliorate the condition of the poor, the lowly, the downtrodden of every race and language and color." [Applause.]

    I shall be content, with such a eulogy on his lofty tomb and such an inscription on my humble grave, to trust our memories to the judgment of after ages."

    Source: Speech of Thaddeus Stevens, Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, Second Session, pg. 266, January 18, 1865.

    Unionblue
     
  5. elektratig

    elektratig Sergeant

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    Great thread UB. But the most important lesson is that people should draw is the realization that all of these debtates from the mid-19th century are online. Want to read David Wilmot's speech announcing his proviso? Want to read Henry Clay's speech proposing what became the Compromise of 1850? Or Calhoun's farewell speech to the Senate? Or Jefferson Davis' resignation from that body? It's all there, for free.
     
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  6. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    elektratig,

    Agreed. It's all there on the Congressional Globe website, every bit of it, for anyone to go and dig out.

    I'm just having fun following it for myself and thought I would post a thread about the 13th amendment debate for anyone to see. But these are MY excerpts, what I found interesting and worth posting in the thread I created here.

    Folks should go and see what the said in their entirety and to check out what I found worth posting and what I did not.

    Could be quite a shock for some. :smile:

    If you want to check up on me and keep me honest, go to the following website:

    Congressional Globe online.

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwcg.html

    Once on the above site, go to the left hand side of the screen and click on:

    Browse Congressional Globe, which will bring you to the "Jump to a Congress" page.

    Click on the 38th 1863-65 portion which will take you to the section that show the first session of that Congress along with the Second Session, where you note I am getting all my information from. Click on pp. 1-816 December 5, 1864 - March 3, 1865, and you will be in my search section. Just note the page numbers I give in my posts and you can verify what I have posted here.

    Have fun!

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue
     
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  7. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    Stevens understood that only an amendment could abolish slavery.

    "...I found in the Constitution of my country what I construed, whatever others may think, as a prohibition from touching slavery where it existed; and through all my course I recognized and bowed to a provision in that Constitution which I always regarded as its only blot; and I challenge the scrutiny of my respected colleague on the Committee of Ways and Means, or any other gentleman, through all the records of utterances in this House, to find one single motion or one single word which claimed on our part to touch slavery in the States where it existed. We admitted that it was there, protected by that instrument. We claimed that in the Territories we had full power over it, and in the District of Columbia, and I, with those who acted with me, could not hesitate as to what our duty required in excluding it from the free soil of the country and confining it to the spots it already polluted. I claimed the right to abolish it in the District of Columbia, as Congress was the only Legislature on earth that could touch it here. I heard the great man of the West once say that it was a sin and shame to believe that there was no power on earth that could abolish it over every inch of ground in the world. But, sir, I did not claim early to act upon it here, but I rather, proposed to let it rest until a more propitious moment should arrive before we acted upon it..."

    Ingenious gentlemen argue, and many honest men will delude their consciences in voting, in favor of still sustaining the institution on the ground that the Constitution does not allow an amendment on this point. They go on the ground that the subject of slavery has not been intrusted to us by the States, and that therefore it is reserved. Now, as the Constitution now stands, that is true. But we are not now inquiring whether we have jurisdiction over slavery. We are inquiring whether the States have granted to us the power of amendment. That is the subject--not the subject of slavery, not the subject of religion, not the subject of anything else--but, have the States yielded to Congress the right to amend? If they have, then the whole question is answered. Not only have they granted that power, but wherever they intended to except anything from the power of amendment, they have said so. My learned friend knows that when a statute excepts certain things, everything else is meant by it. Will the Clerk read the clause of the Constitution?"
     
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  8. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Captain

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  9. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Speech of Congressman Grinnell from the Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, Second Session, January 10, 1865, pg. 199-200:

    "...I regard this as a marked day in American politics and American history. I am happy to follow a gentleman from a slave State--and a slaveholder too, I believe--[Mr. King,] who advocates a constitutional amendment whereby slavery may beome extinct throughout all the breadth of the land. I rejoice that the State of Iowa, which I have the honor to represent upon this floor, and is known by her forty thousand majority for freedom, has so honorable a neighbor, so magnanimous and so able a philosopher and statesman upon this floor.

    It seems to me this is a day of great opportunities; great for the conservative Republican who shall never more have to apologize for his votes, correcting his record; and a great day for the Democrat, who may now break the shackles of party, and stand forth with the great men and patriots in our early history, and march on in the royal highway of freedom for all nations. Sir, this is one of the days which makes the text for volumes of history big with the fate of races and an empire...

    But the gentleman asks, What will you do with our slaves? What shall we do with them? Ah! it seems to me there is something due to those who have so long supported their masters, certainly to be let alone. Cannot they who have supported themselves and their masters in the past take care of themselves? That, sir, is a question which we can well afford to leave unanswered, since the enslaved race are establishing their manhood and fighting our battles.

    The gentleman from New York [Mr. BROOKS] stands up here in defense of those who are now in rebellion, so far as to declare that slavery has not ruled the country. I wish, sir, that he had been more conversant with American history; that he had read less of newspapers and more of our political history. Why, sir, it is well known that the great majority of the people of this country have been controlled by the institutions of the South. We propose to break away from that control, and to stand forth free and independent, never more to be bartered away by a body of men banded together for any political or selfish purpose, much less by those in control of tyrants.

    If you look into the facts and figures in regard to this control, you will find that up to the year of the rebellion for two thirds of the time the Presidency of the United States had been held by slaveholders or southern men; you will find that of the Presidents of the Senate slavery had sixty-one out of seventy-seven; you will find that of Speakers of the House of Representatives they had twenty-one out of thirty-three; you will find that of Attorney Generals they had fourteen out of nineteen; and that they have had the Secretaryship of State nearly two thirds of the time; and since the slavery agitation, as if it were to be ready for this conflict of arms, for four fifths of the time have the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy been from the South.

    Look, too, at the Supreme Court of the United States and its organization; slavery has had seventeen out of the twenty-eight members. It was organized purposely, as all the world knows, to give five judges to the slaveholding States, and four to the free States, not withstanding that the free States exceeded the slaves States almost one third in population and one half in wealth and in business for the courts...

    ...Mr. Speaker, I am aware that there has been much coaxing outside and inside of this Hall in effort to induce Democrats who have voted against the Republican party and against the amendment so long to come now and vote for the amendment. I for one do not share the solicitude of many on this point. I am in no coaxing mood. If these gentlemen see no wisdom in giving orders for a shroud, that there may be an early and decent burial of that which is in its death-throes and ought to have been hastened to the tomb long ago, we can endure its putrescence till the "ides of March" at least, when at a called session of Congress, if a necessity, a jubilant majority will give the vote which they were elected to cast, and will ally their names with the honored dead of the centuries. We can pass the constitutional amendment then without coaxing, thank God. The next Congress was elected for that purpose, and we shall have an overshadowing majority which will open a new page in our political history; and to vote for this constitutional amendment is just the feast to which those members fresh from the people were invited. Those who sunder party ties and vote for it cannot fail of grateful remembrance, for slavery and Democracy have been mutual supporters for thirty years. They cling together like the Siamese twins. And so theirs shall be the folly, theirs shall be the curse, if they do not resist the sorcery of party. Let them abide together and go down to the depths "with bubbling groan," for, pleasant in their lives, in death they should not be divided..."

    Unionblue
     
  10. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    But also needed a war that called the resistance from the halls of Congress to the battlefield.
     
  11. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Captain

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    But it did not, necessarily require a war, if both sides were in agreement that slavery was on a road to ultimate extinction. The closer the south's peculiar institution, came to be accepted as a 'good' thing, that needed protection to be preserved, the more necessary a war became.
     
  12. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I have this opinion that if the Fire Eaters/Southern Nationalists had not seized the moment after Lincoln's election, and the South waited to see what Lincoln, such an agreement would have been made say in the 1880s and or in the Red Scare of the early 1900s. That did not happen.

    As it happened, the South's peculiar institution became a social good, worthy of rebellion and an ideology worthy of converting nations in the nature of the political isms of the 20th century.
     
  13. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Captain

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    In a historical perspective, it is significant to me, that Thomas Jefferson predicted clearly enough that the Mo. Compromise, would cement sectionalism in America and would almost surely result in disunion and John Calhoun, believed that without a change in the Constitutional form of gov't of the United States(concurrent majoritys) the south would necessarily fight(if necessary) to secede and that the Union would fight(if necessaary) to preserve itself.
    The root cause for both men's anxiety being finally settled by the 13th Amend. et. al.
     
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  14. KeyserSoze

    KeyserSoze 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I've come to the conclusion that Fernando Wood was an even more slimy worm than Lincoln made him out to be.
     
  15. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Captain

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    IMO, he was fellow traveller of the Copperheads and most probablhy a closet secessionists.
     

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