War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0008 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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desertion shall be punished by the severe penalty of death. the case requires and the law and the Constitution sanction this punishment. Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father or brother or friend into a public meeting and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write to the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for the wicked Administration of a contemptible Government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional but with all a great mercy.

If I be wrong on this question of constitutional power my error lies in believing that certain proceedings are constitutional when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety requires them, which would not be constitutional when in the absence of rebellion or invasion the public safety does not require them; in other words, that the Constitution is not in its application in all respects the same in cases of rebellion or invasion involving the public safety, as it is in times of profound peace and public security. The Constitution itself makes the distinction, and I can no more be persuaded that the Government can constitutionally take no strong measures in time of rebellion because it can be shown that the same could no be lawfully taken in time of peace than I can be persuaded that a particular drug is not a good medicine for a sick man because it can be shown to not be good food for a well one. Nor am I able to appreciate the danger apprehended by the meeting that the American people will by means of military arrests during the rebellion lose the right of public discission, the liberty of speech and the press, the law of evidence, trial by jury, and habeas corpus throughout the indefinite peaceful future which I trust leis before them any more than I am able to believe that a man could contract so strong an appetite for emetics during temporary illness as to persist in feeding upon them during the remainder of his healthful l the resolutions that earnest consideration which you request of me I cannot overlook the fact that the meeting speaks as "Democrats. " Nor can I with full respect for their known intelligence and the fairly presumed deliberation with which they prepared their resolutions be permitted to suppose that this occurred by accident, or in any way other than they preferred to designate themselves "Democrats" rather than "American citizens. " In this time of national peril I would have preferred to meet you on a level, one step higher than any party platform, because I am sure that from such more elevated position we could do better battle for the country we all love than we possibly can from those lower ones where, from the force of habit, the prejudices of the past, and selfish hopes of the future we are sure to expend much of our ingenuity and strength in finding fault with and aiming blows at each other. But since you have denied me this I will yet be thankful for the country's sake that not all Democrats have done so. He on whose discretionary judgment Mr. Vallandigham was arrested and tried is d Democrat having no old party affinity with me; and the judge who rejected the constitutional view expressed in these resolutions by refusing to discharge Mr. Vallandigham on habeas corpus is a Democrat of better days than these, having received his judicial mantle at the hands of President Jackson. And still more, of all these Democrats who are nobly exposing their lives and shedding their blood on the battle-field I have learned that many approve the course taken with Mr. Vallandigham, while I have not heard of a single one condemning it. I cannot assert that there are none such.