people conscious of their patriotism and jealous of their rights. I earnestly urge that the Government interpose no obstructions to the earless practicable judicial decision upon this point. Our accustomed procedures give to our citizens the right to bring all questions affecting personal liberty or compulsory service, in a direct and summary manner, to the judges and courts of the State or Nation. The decisions which would thus naturally be rendered within a brief period, and after full and ample discussion, would make such a current of judicial opinion as would satisfy the public mind that the act is either valid or void. The right of this Government to enforce military service in any other mode than that pointed out by the Constitution cannot be established by a violent enforcement of the statute. It must be determined ultimately by the judiciary. It should be determined in advance of an enforcement which must be destructive to so many lives. It would be a cruel mockery to withhold such decision until after the irremediable injury of its execution upon those who are unable to pay the sum demanded in lieu of their persons. Those who are able to commute might have their remedy by recovery of the money paid in commutation.
No evils are to be feared if the law should be pronounced unconstitutional. The submission of this Government to the decisions of our courts would give it a new and stronger hold upon the public confidence; it would add new vigor to our system of Government, and it would call forth another exhibition of voluntary offerings of men and treasure to uphold and Administration which should thus defend and respect the rights of the people. The spirit of lawlessness in our land would be rebuked; respect for legal obligations would be invigorated; confidence in our Government would be strengthenes at the North, which now weaken our cause, would at once be healed up, and your voice would be potential in calling forth the power and force of a united people. By what willing strength has done in the past, you may foresee what willing and united strength may accomplish in the future. It cannot be said of New York-I believe it cannot be said of any Northern State that if the conscription act be declared unconstitutional, the Nation is thereby abandoned to weakness and paralysis. Be assured such a fate can never befall a Government which represents the convictions of the people, which works with the spirit and provisions of the Constitution. It is no ore possible, under such circumstances, that the Nation should be left in helplessness than that the strong man's arm should refuse to obey his will. If this bail, which stands upon the assumed right of Congress to pass such an act, shall fall to the ground, there is still left the undisputed authority to call forth the armed power of the Nation in the manner distinctly set forth in the Constitution of our country.
I do not dwell upon what I believe would be the consequence of a violent, harsh policy before the constitutionality of the act is tested. You can scan the immediate future as well as I. The temper of the people to-day you can readily learn by consulting, as I have done, with men of all political parties and of every profession and occupation. The Nation's strength is in the hearts of the people. Estrange them, divide them, and the foundations fall; the structure must perish.
I am confident you will feel that acquiescence in my requests will be but a small concession for our Government to make to our people,