There was a deep and prophetic jealousy of military power which was embodied in these provisions of the Constitution. The military arm was subjected to the paramount direction and government of the national authority, but the right arm, whose million sinews are strung in the militia alone, was guarded by rooting it in the local pride and spirit and subordinate sovereignty of the States.
What is gained to New York, and Western New York especially, by withholding from our organized regiments of militia general officers of their own or their State's appointment? Why should they be deprived of the supervision, discriminating care, and influence which belong to those higher positions? In the single instance in which an officer has been commissioned in this State as a brigadier-general without the co-operation of the State government has the selection been such as to furnish us any assurance that this unconstitutional and usurped authority will be discreetly wielded? Is Western New York so destitute of military ability that it is needful to violate the Constitution to compensate for hew weakness? Is State pride, district pride, local pride so useless an element in military character that it may be disregarded and insulted, and that, too, by an inconsiderate violation of law which wears the appearance of an attempt to retain in the hands of the national Administration the distribution of commissions of general command like so much patronage which has long been appropriated in the distribution of civil offices by successful parties as the perquisites of victory, "the spoils of war?"
To-day regiments are assembled at the depot at Elmira not mustered into the service of the United States, doubting whether they will be so mustered at all, while expectant officers are sounding the drum beat in our streets for recruits to a single brigade in the city of New York, which seems to have received a roving commission to organize an independent force in utter disregard, not to say contempt, of the executive authorities of the State.
It is a great mistake to suppose that this course of administration will be overlooked or forgotten. These regiments, organized under a law for arming 30,000 volunteer militia and appropriating $3,000,000 for the purpose, are entitled to precedence in this conflict before any other bodies of men who may have been put forward by local committees or aspiring and presumptuous individuals acting without the sanction or supervision of the State.
It will not do to confound the provisions of the Constitution which give Congress power "to raise and support armies" with those other provisions which provide for calling out, organizing, and governing the State militia under which Congress has passed an existing law and under which the President has made his requisition for military aid. Confusion and disorder will inevitably ensue from the unconstitutional experiment which has been inaugurated to divide between the national and State governments the appointment of the officers, conceding to the States the appointment of regimental and company officers and retaining in the national Government the appointment of general officers. Acceptance of regiments from the States thus commanded explodes the idea that they are not militia. Practically it would be impossible to organize them without conceding to the States the appointment of the subordinate officers. The spirit of our agricultural, mechanical, and commercial population, warlike, impulsive, and patriotic as it is, would revolt at the idea of surrendering the appointment of those officers to the General Government. But litia are thus organized, commanded by officers whose commissions proceed from the States, they cannot be transformed