By the bill we propose to preclude the judicial question by the solution of a political question. How so? By the paramount power of Congress to reorganize governments in those States, to impose such conditions as it thinks necessary to secure the permanence of republican government, to refuse to recognize any governments there which do not prohibit slavery forever. Ay, gentlemen, take the responsibility to say in the face of those who clamor for the speedy recognition of governments tolerating slavery, that the safety of the people of the United States is the supreme law; that their will is the supreme rule of law, and that we are authorized to pronounce their will on this subject. Take the responsibility to say that we will revise the judgments of our ancestors; that we have experience written in blood which they had not; that we find now what they darkly doubted, that slavery is really, radically inconsistent with the permanence of republican governments; and that being charged by the supreme law of the land on our conscience and judgment to guarantee, that is to continue, maintain and enforce, if it exist, to institute and restore, when overthrown, republican government throughout the broad limits of the republic, we will weed out every element of their policy which we think incompatible with its permanence and endurance. The purpose of the bill is to preclude the judicial question of the validity and effect of the President’s proclamation by the decision of the political authority in reorganizing the State governments. It makes the rule of decision the provisions of the State constitution, which, when recognized by Congress, can be questioned in no court; and it adds to the authority of the proclamation the sanction of Congress. If gentlemen say that the Constitution does not bear that construction, we will go before the people of the United States on that question, and by their judgment we will abide.
GEORGE H. PENDLETON,
OF OHIO. (BORN 1825, DIED 1889.)
On reconstruction; the democratic theory;
House of representatives, may 4, 1864.
The gentleman [Mr. H. W. Davis] maintains two propositions, which lie at the very basis of his views on this subject. He has explained them to the House, and enforced them on other occasions. He maintains that, by reason of their secession, the seceded States and their citizens “have not ceased to be citizens and States of the United States, though incapable of exercising political privileges under the Constitution, but that Congress is charged with a high political power by the Constitution to guarantee republican government in the States, and that this is the proper time and the proper mode of exercising it.” This act of revolution on the part of the seceding States has evoked the most extraordinary theories upon the relations of the States to the Federal Government. This theory of the gentleman is one of them.