War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 1162 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

the judge, answers the question in the affirmative. Therefore the law is constitutional. Again, suppose you are right and Congress has the constitutional power to raise armies by conscription and without the consent of the States to compel every man in the Confederacy between eighteen and thirty-five years old, able to bear arms, to enter these armies, you must admit that Congress has the same power to extend the law and compel every man between sixteen and sixty to enter. And you must admit that the grant of power is as broad in times of peace as in times of war, as there is in the grant no language to limit it to times of war. It follows that Congress has the absolute control of every man in the State whenever it chooses to execute to the full extent the power given it by the Constitution to raise armies. How easy a matter it would have been, therefore, had the Congress of the United States understood the full extent of its power, to have prevented in a manner perfectly constitutional the secession of Georgia and Mississippi from the Union. It was only necessary to pass a conscription law declaring every man in both States able to bear arms to be in the military service of the United States and that each should be treated as a deserter if he refused to serve; and that Congress, the judge, then decide this law was necessary and proper and that it created an instrumentality for the execution of one of the specific powers granted to Congress to provide for the execution of one of the specific powers granted to Congress to provide for the execution of the laws of the Union in the two states or to provide for raising armies. This would have let the States without a single man at their command; without the power to organize or use military force and without free men to constitute even a convention to pass an ordinance of secession. If it is said the people of the States would have refused to obey this law of Congress and would have gone out in defiance of it, it may be replied that this would have ben revolution and not peaceful secession, the right for which we have all contended-though our enemies have not permitted us to part with them in peace-the right for which we are now fighting. Your doctrine carried out not only makes Congress supreme over the States at any time when it chooses to exercise the full measure of its power of raise armies, but it places the very existence of the State governments subject to the will of Congress. The conscription act makes no exception in favor of the officers necessary to the existence of the State government, but in substance declares that they shall all enter the service of the Confederacy at the call of the President under officers which are in future to be appointed by the President. As already remarked, Congress has as much power to extend the act to embrace all between sixteen and sixty as it had to take all between eighteen and thirty-five. If the act is constitutional, it follows that Congress has the power to compel the Governor of every State in the Confederacy, every member of every Legislature of every State, every judge of every court in every State, every officer of the militia of every State and all other State officers to enter the military service as privates in the armies of the Confederacy under officers appointed by the President at any time when it so decides. in other words, Congress may disband the State governments any day when it, as the judge, decides that by so doing it creates an instrumentality for executing the specific power to raise armies. If Congress has the right to discriminate and take only those between eighteen and thirty-five, it has the right to make any other discrimination it may judge necessary and proper in the execution of the power, and it may pass a law in time of peace or war, if it should conclude the State governments are an evil, that all State officers, executive, legislative, judicial,