of the insurrectionary States a peculiar institution to be left infract. We may build up anew that institution in violation of law, it is true, for neither the President nor Congress, nor any judicial tribunal in the land has any more authority to consign a freedman to slavery than they have to hang him without crime or trial but we may build it up if we have power enough, or connive at it if we are shameless enough, just as a highwayman may seize a purse or a burglar carry off a basket of silverware.
Whether, when we shall have suffered vanquished treason to dictate her own terms; whether, when we shall have stooped to purchase, not peace, for God's best blessing cannot so be purchased, but a worthless truce, as brief as treacherous, by an act of usurpation that assumes to assign away the liberates of 3,000, 0000 of free people; whether, when we shall have done this one great thing, we shall have any right to set up for more honest or more virtuous than the felon trader who makes a midnight descent on the Congo coast and steals thence 300 or 400 wretches to crowd the hold of his slave ship-that will be a question to be settled at our leisure with our own consciences.
"The way of the transgressor is hard." It is better to lose fortune than fair fame, and national disgrace is worse than national disaster. A convict, where he is known and remembered as such, may, because, of the stain that attaches to him, toil faithfully through half a life-time ere men take him again by the hand; and a people, stamped by their own public records as lawless and forsworn, may travel a long and a weary road, a reproach the while, and a byword among nations, ere they can take an honored stand once more among the civilized powers of the earth.
In concluding this branch of the subject we briefly group together the propositions that have been advanced:
The inhabitants of the insurrectionary States are, in contemplation of law, without exception, public enemies.
Property belonging to an enemy may, by the law of nations, be seized by the proper military authority and appropriated or destroyed.
In like manner, claims or debts due by a public enemy to an inhabitant of this country may be seized and canceled.
The claims to service or labor upon which rests negro slavery are, in contemplation of the Constitution, in the nature of debts or choses in action, and may, when held by an enemy, be declared null and void.
These claims, because of the labor which they command, constitute a chief resource of the insurgents for carrying on the war, and therefore essentially tend to protract it; for which reason it is the duty of the Commander-in-Chief to take and cancel them.
The interests growing out of these claims have been the cause of the present insurrection, and there can be no sufficient guaranty for peace while they exist, for which reason, also, it becomes a duty to declare them null and void.
These claims involve a great moral wrong, which the insurrection has made it legal to redress, and we are now responsible as a nation if we fail to redress it by their abrogation.
The President's proclamation of emancipation was legal and righteous; it was the act of the Nation and cannot lawfully, nor without violating the national faith solemnly pledged, be revoked.
Therefore the emancipation of all the slaves in the insurrectionary portions of the Union was an act legal and irrevocable.