If I am right in this construction of the proclamation--and I am satisfied in my own mind that I am--another proclamation should be issued. Persons should not be invited to take an oath and to comply with terms under which they cannot obtain firm legal rights. It is especially due to these who have heretofore and would now avail themselves, in good faith, of the benefits of pardon and amnesty, that another proclamation should be substituted covering the now past. Persons who have been constantly engaged in rebellion should know distinctly what they are to do, when and how they are to do it, to free themselves from punishment, in whole or in part, or to reinstate themselves as before the rebellion. Such as have been affected merely by their treasonable associations should be absolutely forgiven. Appropriate conditions should be appended to the pardons of many. The grace and giver of the Government should now be large and generous, and the operation and effect of its proper mercy should not be left uncertain.
The second question you ask is as to the rights of the citizens and residents of the rebel States who have not taken, nor offered to take, the oath and comply with the terms of the proclamation.
Here, again, we meet trouble and uncertainty.
The expressed objects of the proclamation are to suppress the insurrection and restore the authority of the United States. Can any one be permitted to take the oath and comply with the terms prescribed in the proclamation in a State or a community where the civil and military power of the insurrection has been destroyed and the rebellion suppressed, and the authority of the United States is re-established without let or hindrance? Or does the insurrection continue, in legal contemplation, though not in fact, until the Executive Department of the Government shall, by proclamation, declare that it has been suppressed? And would this proclamation of pardon and amnesty continue and be open after proclamation that the rebellion had been suppressed?
It would seem from the proclamation that the amnesty was extended to those who were willing to aid in suppressing, as well as restoring; and yet it may and doubtless will be contended, and with much force and show of reason, that all who have stood by and clung to the insurrection till its organization and power, both civil and military, were gone, have, nevertheless, a right to take all the benefits of the amnesty, because they will lend a reluctant aid in restoring an authority which they hate. Amnesty is proffered for aid in suppressing and restoring; amnesty is demanded for the work of restoration; full reward is required for less than half of the service that is needed.
As a measure to aid in the suppression of the rebellion, the late proclamation has done its full and complete office. Now, one is desired to aid in restoring order and reorganizing society in the rebellious States. Reconstruction is not needed; that word conveys an erroneous idea. The construction of this Government is as perfect as human wisdom can make it. The trial to which its powers and capacities have been subjected in this effort at revolution and dismemberment proves with what wisdom its foundations have been laid. Ours is a task to preserve principles and powers clearly and well defined, and that have carried us safely through our past troubles. Ours is not a duty to reconstruct or change. Society in the rebel States has not been and is not now in a normal condition, nor in harmony with the principles of our Government. That society has rebelled against them, and made was upon the principles and powers of our Govern-