War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 1158 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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however unsubstantial, between calling forth the militia by authority of Congress, and calling forth all men in the State who compose the militia by the same authority. In the one case you term it calling forth the militia and admit that the State has the right to appoint the officers; in the other case while every man called forth may be the same you term it raising an army and deny to the State the appointment of the officers. As this is necessary to sustain the constitutionality of the conscription act you cannot disapprove the statement of the Attorney-General above quoted. If, then, the Attorney-General is right that the terms militia, armies, regular troops, and volunteers had acquired a definite meaning in Great Britain before the Revolutionary War and we have derived most of our ideas on this subject from that source, and if we may safely conclude that the term militia in our Constitution was used in the sense attached to it in that country, is it not equally safe to conclude that the terms armies and to raise armies, having acquired a definite meaning in Great Britain before the Revolutionary War, were used in our Constitution in the same sense attached to them in that country? At that period the Government of Great Britain had no conscription act and did not raise armies by conscription; therefore the convention which made our Constitution having derived most of their ideas in this subject from that source, it is safe to conclude that they used the term to raise armies in the sense attached to it in that country. It necessary follows, the Attorney-General being the judge, that your conclusion is erroneous and that Congress has no power to raise armies, not even her regular armies, by conscription. But as those who framed the Constitution foresaw that Congress might not be able by voluntary enlistment to raise regular or standing armies sufficiently large to meet all emergencies or that the people might refuse to vote supplies to maintain in the field armies so large and dangerous, they wisely provided in connection with this grant of power another relating to the same subject-matter and gave Congress the additional power to call forth the militia to execute to laws of the Confederate States, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions. In this connection I am reminded by your letter that Congress has power to declare war, which you say embraces the right to declare offensive as well as defensive war; and you argue, as I understand, that the militia can only be called forth to repel invasions and not to invade a foreign power, and that Congress would be powerless to redress our wrongs or vindicate our honor if it could raise armies by conscription to invade foreign powers. If this were even so it might be an objection to the constitutional government for want of sufficient strength, which is and objection often made by those who favor more absolute power in the General Government and who attempt by a latitudinarian construction of the Constitution to supply powers which were never intended to be given to it. But does the practical difficulty which you suggest in fact exist? I maintain that it does not. And I may here remark that those established the Government of our fathers did not look to it as a great military power whose people were to live by plundering other nations in foreign aggressive war, but as a peaceful Government, advised by the Father of his Country to avoid entangling alliances with foreign powers. But you suppose after our independence is established that pour present enemy may be tempted to abuse his naval power by depredation on our commerce and that we may be compelled to assert our rights by offensive war, and you