The Abolition Of Slavery The Right Of The Government Under The War Power eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 30 pages of information about The Abolition Of Slavery The Right Of The Government Under The War Power.
subject.  It is a war power.  I say it is a war power, and when your country is actually in war, whether it be a war of invasion or a war of insurrection, Congress has power to carry on the war, and must carry it on, according to the laws of war; and by the laws of war, an invaded country has all its laws and municipal institutions swept by the board, and martial law takes the place of them.  This power in Congress has, perhaps, never been called into exercise under the present Constitution of the United States.  But when the laws of war are in force, what, I ask, is one of those laws?  It is this:  that when a country is invaded, and two hostile armies are set in martial array, the commanders of both armies have power to emancipate all the slaves in the invaded territory.  Nor is this a mere theoretic statement.  The history of South America shows that the doctrine has been carried into practical execution within the last thirty years.  Slavery was abolished in Columbia, first, by the Spanish General Morillo, and, secondly, by the American General Bolivar.  It was abolished by virtue of a military command given at the head of the army, and its abolition continues to be law to this day.  It was abolished by the laws of war, and not by municipal enactments; the power was exercised by military commanders, under instructions, of course, from their respective Governments.  And here I recur again to the example of Gen. Jackson.  What are you now about in Congress?  You are about passing a grant to refund to Gen. Jackson the amount of a certain fine imposed upon him by a Judge, under the laws of the State of Louisiana.  You are going to refund him the money, with interest; and this you are going to do because the imposition of the fine was unjust.  And why was it unjust?  Because Gen. Jackson was acting under the laws of war, and because the moment you place a military commander in a district which is the theatre of war, the laws of war apply to that district.

I might furnish a thousand proofs to show that the pretensions of gentlemen to the sanctity of their municipal institutions under a state of actual invasion and of actual war, whether servile, civil or foreign, is wholly unfounded, and that the laws of war do, in all such cases, take the precedence.  I lay this down as the law of nations.  I say that military authority takes, for the time, the place of all municipal institutions, and slavery among the rest; and that, under that state of things, so far from its being true that the States where slavery exists have the exclusive management of the subject, not only the President of the United States, but the Commander of the Army, has power to order the universal emancipation of the slaves.  I have given here more in detail a principle which I have asserted on this floor before now, and of which I have no more doubt than that you, sir, occupy that chair.  I give it in its development, in order that any gentleman from any part of the Union

Project Gutenberg
The Abolition Of Slavery The Right Of The Government Under The War Power from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook