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"I know of no words of any language adequate to convey to you the gratitude I feel in my inmost soul towards you for your efforts and final success in defeating the bill for the readmission of Louisiana as a State into the Union, with the present flagrantly unjust and proscriptive laws and Constitution. The white people of this country have been so accustomed to regard and treat us as their natural inferiors, that we dread the very thought of submitting to them the adjustment of our rights after their own are made secure. What is not gained for us now will not be obtained for a quarter of a century after peace is declared."
Frederick Douglass, the watchful orator of his race, wrote from Rochester, New York:
"The friends of Freedom all over the country have looked to you, and confided in you, of all men in the United States Senate, during all this terrible war. They will look to you all the more, now that peace dawns, and the final settlement of our national troubles is at hand. God grant you strength equal to your day and your duties! is my prayer and that of millions."
In harmony with these expressions, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Worcester Freedom Club, and communicated to Mr. Sumner:
"Resolved, That the Worcester Freedom Club' tenders to the Hon. Charles Sumner their gratitude as freemen, for the able manner in which he met the question for the admission of Louisiana, and for his noble defence of the Equality of all men before the Law.'"
Evidently Mr. Sumner was not alone. The right of colored fellowcitizens was recognized as next in order for discussion and judgment. The Antislavery fires were flaming forth anew.
GUARANTY OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENTS IN THE REBEL STATES.
RESOLUTIONS IN THE SENATE, FEbruary 25, 1865.
WHILE the resolution recognizing the existing State government of Louisiana was under consideration, Mr. Sumner introduced the following resolutions, which, on his motion, were ordered to be printed. He gave notice that at the proper time he should move them as a substitute for the pending resolution. But before the proper time the Louisiana resolution was postponed, and it fell with the session.
RESOLUTIONS declaring the duty of the United States to guaranty Republican Governments in the Rebel States, on the basis of the Declaration of Independence; so that the new Governments shall be founded on the consent of the governed, and the Equality of all persons before the Law.
ESOLVED, That it is the duty of the United States, by Act of Congress, at the earliest practicable moment consistent with the common defence and the general welfare, to reestablish republican governments in those States where loyal governments have been vacated by the existing Rebellion, and thus, to the full extent of their power, fulfil the requirement of the Constitution, that "the United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government."
2. That this important duty is positively imposed
by the Constitution on "the United States," and not on individuals or classes of individuals, or on any military commander or executive officer, and cannot be intrusted to any such persons, acting, it may be, for an oligarchical class, and in disregard of large numbers of loyal people; but it must be performed by the United States, represented by the President and both Houses of Congress, acting for the whole people.
3. That, in determining the extent of this duty, and in the absence of any precise definition of the term. "republican in form," we cannot err, if, when called to perform this guaranty, we adopt the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence as an authoritative rule, and insist that in every reestablished State the consent of the governed shall be the only just foundation of government, and all persons shall be equal before the law.
4. That, outside the Declaration of Independence, it is plain that any duty imposed by the Constitution. must be performed in conformity with justice and reason, and in the light of existing facts; that therefore, in the performance of this guaranty, there can be no power under the Constitution to disfranchise loyal people, or to recognize any such disfranchisement, especially when it may hand over the loyal majority to the government of the disloyal minority; nor can there be any power under the Constitution to discriminate in favor of the Rebellion by admitting to the electoral franchise Rebels who have forfeited all rights, and excluding loyal persons who have never forfeited any right.
5. That the United States, now at a crisis of history. called to perform this guaranty, will fail in duty under the Constitution, should they allow the reëstablish
ment of any State without proper safeguards for the rights of all the citizens, and especially without making it impossible for Rebels in arms against the National Government to trample upon the rights of those fighting the battles of the Union.
6. That the path of justice is also the path of peace, and that for the sake of peace it is better to obey the Constitution, and, in conformity with the guaranty, to reëstablish State governments on the consent of the governed, and the equality of all persons before the law, to the end that the foundations may be permanent, and that no loyal majorities may be again overthrown or ruled by any oligarchical class.
7. That a government founded on military power, or having its origin in military orders, cannot be "republican in form," according to the requirement of the Constitution; and that its recognition will be contrary, not only to the Constitution, but also to that essential principle of our Government which, in the language of Jefferson, establishes "the supremacy of the civil over the military authority."1
8. That, in the States whose governments have already been vacated, a government founded on an oligarchical class, even if erroneously recognized as "republican in form" under the guaranty of the Constitution, cannot sustain itself securely without national support; that such an oligarchical government is not competent at this moment to discharge the duties and execute the powers of a State; and that its recognition as a legitimate government will tend to enfeeble the Union, to postpone the day of reconciliation, and to endanger the national tranquillity.
1 First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801: Writings, Vol. VIII., p. 4.
9. That considerations of expediency are in harmony with the requirements of the Constitution and the dictates of justice and reason, especially now, when colored soldiers have shown their military value; that, as their muskets are needed for the national defence against Rebels in the field, so are their ballots yet more needed against the subtle enemies of the Union at home; and that without their support at the ballot-box the cause of human rights and of the Union itself will be in constant peril.