of rebellion or invasion. " Our Government was designed to be a government of law, settled and defined, and not of the arbitrary wall of a single man. As a safeguard the powers were delegated to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the Government, and each made co-ordinate with the other an supreme within its sphere, and thus a mutual check upon each other in case of abuse of power.
It has been the boast of the American people that they had a written Constitution not only expressly defining, but also limiting the powers of the Government, and providing effectual safeguards for personal liberty, security, and property. And to make the matter more positive and explicit, it was provided by the amendatory articles, IX and X, that "the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the State are reserved to the States respectively or to the people. " With this case and forethought on the part of our forefathers who framed our institutions it was not to be expected that at so early a day as this a claim of the President to arbitrary power, limited only by his conception of the requirements of the public safety, would have been asserted. In derogation of the constitutional provisions making the President strictly an executive officer and vesting all the delegated legislative powers in Congress your position as we understand it would make your will the rule of action, and your declaration of the requirements of the public safety the law of the land. Our inquiry was not therefore 'simply a question who shall decide, or the affirmation that nobody shall decide, what the public safety requires. " Our Government is a government of law and it is the lawmaking power which ascertains what the public safety requires and prescribes the rule of action, and the duty of the President is simply to execute the laws thus enacted, and not to make or annul laws. If any exigency shall arise the President has the power to convene Congress at any time to provide for it, so that the plea of necessity furnishes no reasonable pretext for any assumption of legislative power.
For a moment contemplate the consequences of such a claim to power. Not only would the dominion of the President be absolute over the rights of individuals, but equally so over the other departments of the Government. If the should claim that the public safety required it, he could arrest and imprison a judge for the conscientious discharge of his duties, paralyze the judicial power or supersede it by the substitution of courts-martial, subject to his own will, throughout the whole country. If any one of the States even far removed from the rebellion should not sustain his plan for prosecuting the war, he could on the plea of public safety annul and set at defiance the State laws and authorities, arrest and imprison the Governor of the State or the members of the Legislature while in the faithful discharge of their duties, or he could absolutely control the action either of Congress or the Supreme Court by arresting a imprisoning its members, and upon the same ground he could suspend the elective franchise, postpone the elections, and declare the perpetuity of his high prerogative. And neither the power of impeachment nor the elections of the people could be made available against such concentration of power.
Surely it is not necessary to subvert free government in this country in order to put down the rebellion, and it cannot be done under the pretense of putting down the rebellion. Indeed it is plain that your Administration has been weakened, and greatly weakened, by the assumption of power not delegated in the Constitution.
5 R R-SERIES II, VOL VI.