War of the Rebellion: Serial 122 Page 0254 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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into a standing army, disassociated from their respective States by calling them volunteers.

Neither will it do to say that the President has only taken the responsibility of a series of acts without authority of law, trusting for his justification to the public exigencies and peril and to the sanction of Congress, by public law, when it shall assemble in July. There was no need for taking such responsibility, because the existing laws authorizing the President's call for State militia were ample and adequate to the exigency, and having invoked the State authorities in their sovereign capacity as States for aid, and having received from the States bodies of men which have been enrolled as militia, there can be no good reason, as there certainly is no power, in Congress to retain them inn any other character. What else than militia could the national Government summon from the States? What else had the States to enroll and send forward in response to the summons? The whole spirit of the Constitution is against this experiment to divide commissions, prerogatives, and responsibilities. This is not a foreign war like the war against Mexico, but it is the very case specified in the Constitution-a case of insurrection and resistance to the execution of the laws of the Union, in which the State militia is named as the power to be invoked and employed. If the New York militia has been summoned to the field to aid in suppressing the existing insurrection-if that militia, clothed and armed at the expense of the State, and mustered in the service of the United States, is to remain just what it was created to be, then there is no power in Congress to confer on the President the prerogative of appointing its officers. An example of fearful import may grow out of this mode of appointment if it shall now be persisted in. Who can fail to perceive that it is a wide departure from the jealous fear of military power and despotism, breathed into the Constitution by its framers? Why was it specified in that sacred instrument that the militia, though armed, organized, disciplined, and governed by the United States when mustered into its service, as should be commanded by officers appointed by the respective States? This was the great safeguard in time of fervid patriotism and excitement like the present, against the abuse of that patriotism by a concentration of military power for ambitious purposes which might be made subversive of liberty.

In the creation of a standing army, let the Government open its recruiting stations and accept its volunteers; but let us never sanction the attempt now inconsiderately made to appropriate and absorb for such a purpose the power of the State over its own militia.

We call on the Executive Council of this State to persevere in a firm and respectful maintenance of its rightful authority over its militia, and on our members of Congress to unite in holding the national Administration to a strict conformity in this regard to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.





Saint Johnsbury, Vt., June 4, 1861.


Secretary of War:

SIR: I received, yesterday, your telegraphic dispatch, ordering the Second Vermont Regiment of Volunteers to be sent forward by rail to