Address of Congress to the People of the Confederate States. Joint Resolution in Relation to the War

Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction June 20 1866
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For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution.

The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions.

The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

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Address of Congress to the People of the Confederate States: Joint Resolution in Relation to the War. by Confederate States of America. Congress. Address of Congress to the people of the Confederate States: joint resolution in relation to the war, by Confederate States of America. Congress.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution ; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States.

They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government.

Observing the forms of the Constitution , a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

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This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution , has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States. The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief. We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Avalon Home Document Collections Ancient bce - Medieval - 15 th Century - 16 th Century - 17 th Century - 18 th Century - 19 th Century - 20 th Century - 21 st Century -. The Mexicans themselves, he said, would have to drive out the French puppet regime, after which "no one can foresee how things would shape themselves" in Mexico. On the matter of reconciliation between North and South, Davis, without conceding Confederate independence, told Blair that a restoration of friendly relations "depended upon well-founded confidence" on both sides.

Davis made it clear that he had no confidence in Secretary of State William H. Seward, whom he thought would be the central figure in any formal peace talks. Blair agreed that Seward could not be trusted, but he allayed the Confederate president's concern by indicating that "this matter, if entered upon at all, must be with Mr. Lincoln himself," whose word, Blair assured Davis, was his bond.

Davis then expressed his willingness to appoint a delegation to meet with President Lincoln or his representatives for the purpose of ending the war.

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He gave Blair a note indicating "the substance of remarks made by me, to be repeated by you to President Lincoln. Elated with Davis's agreement to pursue peace talks, despite the "two-countries" condition, and confidentially informed by old Southern friends in Richmond that they believed their cause was hopeless, Blair returned to Washington on January Lincoln, ignoring Blair's fanciful Mexican scheme for ending the war, expressed his satisfaction with the "Sage of Silver Spring's" report, particularly the description of the despondency existing in the Confederate capital and Davis's apparent willingness to negotiate.

Nevertheless, Lincoln, based on Blair's optimistic report and Davis's comment that he had "no disposition to find obstacles in forms," believed that Southern pressure for ending the war, which was certain to increase since the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, might force the "insurgent leader" to ignore the "two-countries" stipulation for peace talks. Such talks could conceivably lead to reunion. With that in mind the president asked Blair to return to Richmond, this time carrying a carefully crafted letter for Davis.

The letter was addressed to Blair, not "the insurgent leader," whom Lincoln could not recognize directly. Meanwhile, Blair's activities had spawned wild speculation—and controversy—regarding peace.

The Washington National Intelligencer observed that "the Blair Mission has become the national excitement is evident enough from [reading] the leading press of the country. The Washington correspondent of the New York Herald reported on January 21 that the city "has been under an intense excitement during the last few days over the question of peace. We have had the rebellion closed up, Jeff. Davis flying towards Mexico, and the bulk of the rebel Congress marching for Washington to apply for admittance here. Seward "had decided to make peace on the best terms possible.

Lincoln, however, faced important opposition within his own party to Blair's diplomatic initiative.

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Wade, and Thaddeus Stevens, who already were at odds with the president over reconstruction, did not trust Blair, an erstwhile Democrat, the father of the conservative Montgomery Blair, and an old friend of Jefferson Davis. Moreover, they assumed that Lincoln, in sending Blair to Richmond, planned to negotiate a compromise peace with the rebels.

The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States

The fall of Fort Fisher, Radicals believed, meant that the unconditional surrender of the Confederate armies would soon occur, obviating any reason to negotiate peace terms with the rebels. Radicals feared that the president, in order to stop the fighting at this time, would grant universal amnesty to the rebels, return confiscated property, and abandon emancipation, at least in those areas where slaves had not been freed.

Stevens exclaimed on the floor of the House of Representatives that if the country could vote again for president, Benjamin F. Butler, not Lincoln, would be the nation's choice. Nothing but evil can come of this nonsense. Moderate or conservative Republicans, who reportedly constituted a minority on the issue, generally stood by the president. The New York Times warned: "None but national authorities can wage war or make for peace; and the moment we enter into negotiations with the rebel Government for terms of peace, that moment we have actually and legally conceded everything for which they have been making war. A moderate Republican, while expressing "unbounded confidence in the President," wrote in the Boston Advertiser that "the loyal masses [would] revolt at the idea of treating with Jeff. Davis and his confederates in despotic government.

Let our conquering generals be the only negotiators of peace. Stanton questioned the wisdom of the Blair mission or the policy of holding peace talks with rebels before their armies had surrendered. The Union, they reasoned, held all of the cards now, and it would be foolish to sit down at the table with the rebels and deal them a hand in the settlement. Furthermore, high-level officials believed that peace talks would hamper the recruitment of troops and weaken the fighting spirit of the forces in the field, thereby unnecessarily extending the life of the rebellion.

Some cabinet members feared that peace talks could divide or "Tylerize" the Republican party and throw the president into the arms of the Democrats. Secretary of Navy Welles, whose respect for Lincoln had grown during the war, commented in his diary regarding the peace effort: "The President, with much shrewdness and much good sense, has often strange and incomprehensible whims; takes sometimes singular and unaccountable freaks.

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Blair, armed with Lincoln's message to Davis indicating his willingness to receive Confederate representatives for the purpose "of securing peace to the people of our one common country," returned to Richmond on January The next day he met with the Confederate president and gave him Lincoln's message. Later, Blair dictated and Lincoln wrote the following regarding Davis's reaction to the message: "Mr. Davis read it over twice in Mr. Blair's presence, at the close of which he, Mr.

B remarked that the part about 'our one common country' related to the part of Mr. D's letter about 'the two countries' to which Mr. D replied that he so understood it. A suspension of hostilities could be arranged, followed by the restoration of the Union. Disregarding Blair's reunion remark, Davis, who had long hoped for an armistice that would end the federal coercion of the South, quickly responded that he would willingly entrust cease-fire negotiations to General Lee.

Stephens to his office to discuss "special and important business. Such a meeting between the political leaders—not the military commanders as Blair had suggested—might secure an end to the hostilities without committing the Confederacy to the Mexican scheme or to reunion.

Davis agreed, and immediately obtained the endorsement of his cabinet to the decision.

The Battle Over Reconstruction

Cary, R. HILL, R. With his support, leaders committed to the abolition of slavery gained political power in Maryland and Missouri and pushed through constitutional amendments that abolished slavery in these states before the end of the war. It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better. Communication recommending certain changes in the impressment laws;

Davis selected Stephens, Senator Robert M. Hunter, and John A. Campbell, a former associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, to meet with Lincoln or his representatives. He then asked Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin to draft instructions for the peace "commissioners. Lincoln and test the reality" of Blair's proposals without conceding Davis's purpose in the conference, namely a cease-fire. Davis, however, objected to the ambiguity in the language of Benjamin's draft. In his final instructions to the commissioners, he directed them "to proceed to Washington City for an informal conference with [Lincoln] upon the issues involved in the existing war, and for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries.

On January 29, the Stephens commission set out for Petersburg to seek permission to enter federal lines.