Selected Quotes from the 39th Congress, 1865-66
Concerning Lincoln's second inauguration, Frederick Douglass said:
"The inauguration, like the election, was a most
important event. Four years before, after Mr. Lincoln's first
election, the pro-slavery spirit determined against his inauguration,
and no doubt would have accomplished its purpose had he attempted to
pass openly and recognized through Baltimore. There was murder in the
air then, and there was murder in the air now. His first inauguration
arrested the fall of the Republic, and the second was to restore it
to enduring foundations. At the time of the second inauguration the
rebellion was apparently vigorous, defiant, and formidable; but in
reality weak, dejected, and desperate. It had reached that verge of
madness when it had called upon the negro for help to fight against
the freedom which he so longed to find, for the bondage he would
escape - against Lincoln the Emancipator for Davis the enslaver. But
desperation discards logic as well as law, and the South was
desperate. Sherman was marching to the sea, and Virginia with its
rebel capital was in the firm grip of Ulysses S. Grant. To those who
knew the situation it was evident that unless some startling change
was made the confederacy had but a short time to live, and that time
full of misery. This condition of things made the air at Washington
dark and lowering. The friends of the confederate cause were neither
few nor insignificant. They were among the rich and influential. A
wink or a nod from such men might unchain the hand of violence and
set order and law at defiance. To those who saw beneath the surface
it was clearly perceived that there was danger abroad; and as the
procession passed down Pennsylvania Avenue, I for one felt an
instinctive apprehension that at any moment a shot from some assassin
in the crowd might end the glittering pageant, and throw the country
into the depths of anarchy. I did not know then, what has since
become history, that the plot was already formed and its execution
contemplated for that very day, which though several weeks delayed,
at last accomplished its deadly work. Reaching the Capital, I took my
place in the crowd where I could see the Presidential procession as
it came upon the east portico, and where I could hear and see all
that took place. There was no such throng as that which celebrated
the inauguration of President Garfield, not that of President
Rutherford B. Hayes. The whole proceeding was wonderfully quiet,
earnest, and solemn. From the oath, as administered by Chief Justice
Chase, to the brief but weighty address delivered by Mr. Lincoln,
there was a leaden stillness about the crowd. The address sounded
more like a sermon than a state paper. In the fewest words possible
it referred to the condition of the country four years before, on his
first accession to the presidency - to the causes of the war, and the
reasons on both sides for which it had been waged. Neither
party,' he said, expected for the war the magnitude or the
duration which it had already attained. Neither had anticipated that
the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the
conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and
a result less fundamental and astounding.' Then in a few short
sentences, admitting the conviction that slavery had been the
offense which, in the providence of God, must needs come, and
the war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came,' he asks if
there can be discerned in this, any departure from those divine
attributes which the believers in a loving God always ascribe to him?
Fondly do we hope,' he continued, fervently do we pray that
this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills
that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondsman's two
hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until
every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another
drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still
it must be said, "The judgements of the Lord are true and
righteous altogether."... With malice towards none, with charity
for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the
right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the
nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and
for his widow and orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a
just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.'
"I know not how many times, and before how many people I have quoted these solemn words of our martyred president; they struck me at the time, and have seemed to me ever since to contain more vital substance than I have ever seen compressed in a space so narrow; yet on this memorable occasion when I clapped my hand in gladness and thanksgiving at their utterance, I saw in the faces of many about me expressions of widely different emotion.
"On this inauguration day, while waiting for the opening of the ceremonies, I made a discovery in regard to the Vice President - Andrew Johnson. There are moments in the lives of most, when the doors of their souls are open, and unconsciously to themselves, their true character may be read by the observant eye. It was at such an instant I caught a glimpse of the real nature of this man, which all subsequent developments proved true. I was standing in the crowd by the side of Mrs. Thomas J. Dorsey, when Mr. Lincoln touched Mr. Johnson, and pointed me out to him. The first expression which came to his face, and which I think was the true index of his heart, was one of bitter contempt and aversion. Seeing that I observed him, he tried to assume a more friendly appearance; but it was too late; it was useless to close the door when all within had been seen. His first glance was the frown of the man, the second was the bland and sickly smile of the demagogue. I turned to Mrs. Dorsey and said, Whatever Andrew Johnson may be, he certainly is no friend of our race.'
"No stronger contrast could well be presented between two men than between President Lincoln and Vice President Johnson on this day. Mr. Lincoln was like one treading the hard and thorny path of duty and self-denial; Mr. Johnson was like one just from a drunken debauch. The face of the one was full of manly humility, although at the topmost height of power and pride, the other was full of pomp and swaggering vanity. The fact was, though it was yet early in the day, Mr. Johnson was drunk." (The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, written by himself, Park Publishing Co., Hartford, Conn., 1882, pp. 403-05) [note: Andrew Johnson vetoed all legislation passed by the 39th Congress to enforce the 13th amendment and to assist the freedmen. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was made law by Congress overriding his veto.]
Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1865-66
[Senator] WILSON: The Senate of Georgia, the telegraph tells us this
morning, has passed a bill containing degrading and arbitrary
provisions. It regulates contracts between master and servant. It
provides that if over one month, the contract must be made in
writing. Work hours, from sunrise to sunset. The servant is
responsible for damaging the master's property. Wages are forfeited
by leaving. The employer may discharge the servants for disobedience,
drunkenness, immorality or want of respect. Leaving services or
enticing servants away is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500
or imprisonment for four months.
In Mississippi the Legislature passed a bill in which it is provided
"That if the laborer shall quit the service of the
employer before expiration of his term of service, without just
cause, he shall forfeit his wages for that year, up to the time of quitting.
"That every civil officer shall, and every person may, arrest and carry back to his or her legal employer any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, who shall have quit the service of his or her legal employer before the expiration of his term of service without good cause, and said officer or person shall be entitled to receive, for arresting and carrying back every deserting employee aforesaid, the sum of five dollars, and ten cents per mile from the place of arrest to the place of delivery, and the same shall be held by the employer and held as a set off for so much against the wages of said deserting employee, provided that said arrested party may appeal to a justice of the peace or member of the board of police of the county, who, on notice to the alleged employer, and has good cause to quit said employer, shall try summarily whether said appellant is legally employed by the alleged employer; either party shall have the right of appeal to the county court, pending which the alleged deserter shall be remanded to the alleged employer, or otherwise disposed of as shall be right and just, and the decision of the county court shall be final.
"That upon the affidavit made by the employer of any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or any other credible person before any justice of the peace, or member of the board of police, that any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, legally employed by said employer has legally deserted said employment, such justice of the peace or member of the board of police shall issue his warrant or warrants, returnable to himself or other such officer, directed to any sherrif, constable, or special deputy, commanding him to arrest such deserter and return him to said employer, and the like proceedings shall be as provided in the previous section, and it shall be lawful for any officer to whom such warrant shall be directed to execute said warrant in any county in this State, and that said warrant may be transmitted without indorsement to any like officer of another county, to be executed and returned as aforesaid, and the said employer shall pay the costs of said warrants and arrest and return, and which will be set off for so much against the wages of said deserter.
"That if any person shall, or attempt to, persuade, entice, or cause any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to desert from the legal employment of any person before the expiration of his term of service, or shall employ any such deserting freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or shall give or sell any such freedman, free negro, or mulatto, any food, raiment, or other thing, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, he shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars and not more than two hundred dollars and the costs; and if said fine and costs shall not be immediately paid, the court shall sentence said convict to not exceeding two months' imprisonment in the county jail, and he shall, moreover, be liable to the party injured in damages; Provided, if any person shall, or shall attempt to, persuade, entice, or cause, any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, to desert from the legal employment of any person, with the view to employ said freedman, free negro, or mulatto, without the limits of the State, such person, on conviction, shall be fined not less than fifty dollars and not more than five hundred dollars and the costs, and if such fine and costs shall not be immediately paid, the court shall sentence said convict to not exceeding six months' imprisonment in the county jail."
This arbitrary and inhumane act makes the freedmen the slaves of society, and it is far better to be the slave of one man than to be the slave of arbitrary law. This act also forbids the leasing of lands and houses outside the cities, thus making them landless and homeless....
A bill is now pending in the Legislature of Louisiana, which provides
"That any adult freedman or woman shall furnish
themselves with a comfortable home and visible means of support
withing twenty days after the passage of this act.
"That any freedman or woman failing to obtain a home and support, as provided in the first section of this act, shall be immediately arrested by any sheriff or constable in any parish, or sheriff, constable, or police officer in any city or town in said parish where said freedman shall be, and by them delivered over to the recorder of the parish in which they are arrested, and by him hired out by public advertisements to some citizen, being the highest bidder, for the remainder of the year in which they are hired.
"That every freedman or woman who contracts, will have a book countersigned by the recorder of the parish where he lives, when he or she first engaged their services after the passage of this act, in which will be recorded their name, age, and place where he or she last lived, and a certificate of his or her character and habits, and the length of time and to whom engaged, and the name of the employer. In case of his changing his employer, the consent of his former employer shall be entered on said book, before he shall be employed by any other person.
"That in the case of the death of the employer, his heirs, or he who acquires his property, is based by the contract with the laborers in the condition the deceased was, and the laborer is bound to the new proprietor according to the terms of the previous contract. In the case of the laborer leaving his employer's service without his consent, when taken will be assigned to labor on some public work without compensation until his employer reclaim him.
"General conversation will not be allowed during working hours; for any disobedience a fine of one dollar; failing to obey reasonable orders, neglect of duty, and living home without permission, will be deemed disobedience. No livestock will be allowed the laborers without the permission of the employer; all lost time from work hours (unless in case of sickness) the laborer will be charged twenty-five cents per hour; all lost time from home without leave will be charged at the rate of two dollars per day. All difficulties arising between the employers and laborers will be settled by the former, and if not satisfactory to the laborers an appeal may be had to the nearest justice of the peace, and two freeholders, citizens, one of said citizens to be selected by the employer and the other by the laborer.
"That any laborer contracting by the day, week, month, or year, or for term of years, who leaves his employer without his consent, the employer shall have right to obtain a warrant from any judge or justice of the peace, directed to a sheriff or constable, who shall immediately arrest said laborer and deliver him to his employer."
Abraham Lincoln, in that proclamation that made his name dear to our common humanity, made the slaves of Louisiana free, forever free. Has that State the right to enact a measure to demean, degrade, enslave the men Abraham Lincoln made free? (Pg. 39)
Mr. [Senator] WILSON: We should secure to these freedmen the right to acquire and hold property, to enjoy the fruits of their own labor, to be protected in their homes and family, the right to be educated, and to go and come at pleasure. These are among the natural rights of free men. (pg. 42)
Mr. [Senator] TRUMBULL: And, sir, when the constitutional amendment shall have been adopted [13th], if the information from the South be that the men whose liberties are secured by it are deprived of the privilege to go and come when they please, to buy and sell when they please, to make contracts and enforce contracts, I give notice that, if no one else does, I shall introduce a bill and urge its passage through Congress that will secure to those men every one of these rights; they would not be freeman without them." (pg. 43) [note: Trumbull was soon to frame the law that came to be known as the Civil Rights Act of 1866]
Mr. [Senator] SUMNER. And now, first, as to the rebel States generally. I know no testimony which has found its way to the public, with regard to the general condition of the South, which will compare in value with a series of letters by A. Warren Kelsey, a cotton agent of character and intelligence above question, who has traveled through the rebel States. His communications with his employers show singular powers of observation, and are expressed with great clearness. Of course, I can only give a few extracts:
"While I am able to say that they have made up their minds that emancipation is a fact, and not to be avoided, I am obliged to state my earnest opinion that so far a session is concerned, that is, the doctrine of State rights, it is more deeply rooted than ever among them. They are perfectly united in the belief that the division of this country is both right from a moral standpoint, and politic as a measure of expediency. They have simply changed their base from the battle-field to the ballot-box, believing, as they frankly admit, that greater triumphs await them than they could ever hope for in the field. In almost every house hangs the old, worn confederate uniform, which is displayed with pride and satisfaction to all comers. So far from repenting from the stand they took, they glory in it. They regret the result, and their non-success, it is true, but not one in a thousand will admit they were in the wrong." (pg. 92)
Mr. [Rep.] CHANLER. Hon. Michael Hahn, of Louisiana, in a speech delivered before the National Equal Suffrage Association of Washington, on Friday, November 17, 1865, says:
"But I, who come from the South, and have seen the working of the institution for over a quarter of a century, tell you - and I do it regrettably - that slavery in practice and substance still exists."
Hon. Charles Sumner, in a speech delivered before the Republican State Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, September 14, 1865, "on the national security and national faith," says:
"Neither the rebellion nor slavery is yet ended. The rebellion has been disarmed, but that is all. Slavery has been abolished in name; but that is all." (pg. 217)
Mr. [Senator] TRUMBULL. On that subject it is known that there are differences of opinion, but I trust there are no differences of opinion among the friends of the constitutional amendment, among those who are for real freedom for the black man, as to his being entitled to equality in civil rights. If that is not going as far as some gentleman would desire, I say to them it is a step in the right direction. Let us go that far, and, going that far, we have the cooperation of the executive department, for the President has told us in his annual message:
"Good faith requires the security of the freedman in their liberty and their property, their right to labor, and their right to claim the just return of their labor. I cannot too strongly urge a dispassionate treatment of this subject, which should be carefully kept aloof from all party strife." (pg. 322)
Mr. [Rep.] FARNSWORTH. Mr. Speaker, it is well know to every man who
has read the history of our country that at the time of the formation
of our Government it was expected and believed by the men who made it
that slavery would die out in a very few years; and the framers of
the Government resorted to some shifts and compromises in the belief
that slavery would shortly come to an end. They were very careful in
making the Constitution to avoid inserting the ward "slave"
or "slavery." They sought to make an instrument which
future generations might subject to the closest scrutiny, without
finding in it any evidence that slavery ever had an existence in this land.
But, Mr. Speaker, we now have a different state of things. That class of people who were then held as slaves are now emancipated. We have learned, by sad experience, that what have been called in these days "the compromises of the Constitution" have proved a Pandora's box, out of which have come all manner of evils to afflict this country. They have brought on this was. They have produced all of this bloodshed in the struggle through which we have passed for the last four years. All these grew out of it.
We now, at the termination of this struggle, for the first time hold the power to do right. If the people of the United States will but rise up to the standard of duty and mete out the full measure of justice which has been so long withheld from them, they have power to do it. This Congress has a majority in favor of these principles, and ought to pass an amendment as is required by the emergency. The States not in the rebellion are numerous enough to ratify an amendment to the Constitution; and I verily believe if the men elected to this Congress as Republicans would vote together for such amendments to the Constitution as they in their consciences approve, they would be incorporated into the Constitution, for the States would adopt them; it is only because of the timidity of men, it is only because they are afraid to come to the mark. (pp. 383-84)
Mr. [Senator] MCDOUGALL. Now the issue has come. If we are to allow
an inferior population to engage in the highest office of the
Government, debasing further the standard of the metal which is
debased enough already, God knows, let us understand the issue.
But as a race you can give me no illustration, from Fred Douglass all the way through the category, of a single individual of them who is or was a grave, careful, considerate, and high reasoning man. None of them ever gave a thought to philosophy; none of them ever studied, beyond the mere matter of management, anything about government; none of them have achieved success in any field where belongs high intellectuality. (pg. 401) [note: This reveals the typical Democrat back then. They believed that they were the only ones with the wisdom and capacity to rule the people.]
Mr. [Rep.] NICHOLSON. But should the majority persist in these attempts to revolutionize the Government, while they exclude from this Hall those who are to be affected by this action, and who have a right to be heard and to vote upon these measures, their conduct must at least be pronounced unmanly and ungenerous, and will prove the truth of what Prescott so forcibly expresses in closing his chapter on the Inquisition in his history of Ferdinand and Isabella. He says:
"Many a bloody page of history attests the fact that fanaticism, armed with power, is the sorest evil which can befall a nation." (pg. 435) [note: How can securing equality in civil rights to all people be termed as "evil"?]
Mr. [Senator] HOWE. I read from the National Union of the 10th instant - used this language:
"I can only say by way of admonition and encouragement to
the colored friends, attend your schools, learn to read the word of
God, and then learn to love and practice it; and by way of caution
and advice, I admonish you be mild and temperate in your habit and
spirit and your conduct toward the white people. I advise as a friend
loving the institution and desiring the prosperity of what you have
undertaken. I advise the teachers, male and female, to be exceedingly
prudent and cautious, and do nothing offensive to the predominant
"You may think it a little strange that I give such counsel. I do it because if General Thomas were to take away his soldiers and pull up stakes and leave here, you would not be allowed to occupy your schoolroom a week; and if General Thomas and his military forces werr to go away and leave us, this Legislature, at the head of which I am placed, would be broken up by a mob in forty-eight hours."
A committee calling themselves the central committee of Tennessee, in a memorial addressed to the committee on reconstruction, which has found its way into the newspapers, use this language:
"The designs of the great secessionist majority of Tennessee may have been changed by the events of the war, and so may have been the opinion of their own strength, and of the strength of the Government, but unless your memorialists greatly misunderstood them, their sentiments, sympathies, and passions remain unchanged. They welcome peace because they are disabled from making war; they submit because they can no longer resist; they accept results they cannot reject, and profess loyalty because they have a halter around their necks. They recognize the abolition of slavery because they see it before them as a fact; but they say it was accomplished by gross violations of the Constitution - that the negro is free only in fact, but not in law, or of right."
But, Mr. President, I think I can convince you more satisfactorily of the extent to which they have surrendered their cause by reading to you some extracts from a series of chapters drawn by a commission appointed in Florida for the purpose of revising their code. At the head of that commission I find the name of Mr. DuPont who is the chief justice of Florida if Florida has a chief justice. Acting upon the assumption that slavery was destroyed, they conceived that it was necessary to make some changes in their code regulating the colored population of that district. The commission reported ten chapters for that purpose. I have them all before me. They create first a county criminal court, and to that court they give jurisdiction in cases of -
"Assault, assault and battery, assault with intent to kill, riot, affray, larceny, robbery, arson, burglary, malicious mischief, vagrancy, and all misdemeanors, and all offenses against religion, charity, morality, and decency."
That is the jurisdiction of that county criminal court. One of the sections declares -
"That in all cases where a fine, penalty, or forfeiture is or may be provided or inflicted by any statute of this State, as the punishment for any offense by the court organized by this act, the person upon whom such fine, penalty, or forfeiture may be imposed, may for then non-payment thereof be put to such labor as the county commissioners of the county in which such fine, penalty, or forfeiture was imposed, may direct, and shall be allowed such compensation for his labor, in reduction of his fine or forfeiture, as may be reasonable and just, and he shall not be held to such labor for a longer period than shall be necessary to pay and satisfy the fine, forfeiture, and penalty so imposed; or the said county commissioners may hire outcry, the said party to any person who will take him for the shortest time and pay the fine, forfeiture, and penalty imposed."
The next section provides:
"That all fines, forfeitures, imposed upon any person by the county criminal court organized by this act, shall be paid into the county treasury, and all legitimate expenses attending a prosecution in the said court shall be provided for and paid out of said treasury; and the compensation of jurors and witnesses called to testify on the part of the prosecution shall be at the option and discretion of the board of county commissioners of the respective counties."
What is the purpose of these clauses? They explain it. They say that before the abolition of slavery there was an excellent tribunal. Their language is -
"Heretofore there existed in each household a tribunal peculiarly adapted to the investigation and punishment of the great majority of minor offenses to the commission of which this class of population was addicted."
That is, the class of population made free by the act of emancipation.
"With the destruction of the institution of negro slavery, that tribunal has become extinct, and hence the necessity of erecting another in its stead, and of making such modifications in our legislation as shall give full efficiency to out criminal code."
Which means briefly this: that when slavery existed, the head
of each family was a government for all the slaves belonging to that
family; he did his own whipping, administered his own corrections; he
made his own laws. That institution having been destroyed and slavery
ended, each county is to have a superintendent, what they call a
county criminal court, and do the whipping and administer the
correction for the whole county. They are to be tried before jurors;
they are to be convicted of these offenses upon the testimony of
witnesses; but those witnesses and those jurors are to depend on
their compensation upon the liberality of the county commissioners in
the county which administers this justice.
Another bill declares -
"That whenever in the criminal laws of this State, heretofore enacted, the punishment of the offense is limited to fine and imprisonment, or to fine or imprisonment, there shall be superadded as an alternative, the punishment of standing in the pillory for one hour, or whipping, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes on the bare back, or both, at the discretion of the jury."
Now, here are some of the offenses declared:
"That the severance from the freehold of any agricultural
production or fixture, or any part thereof, and the felonious taking
and carrying away the same, shall be deemed and held to be larceny,
and be punished as such."
"That if any person shall incite an insurrection or sedition among any portion or class of the population of this State, or shall attempt by writing, speaking, or by other means, to excite such insurrection or sedition, the person or persons so offending shall be deemed as guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall suffer death."
These are two provisions creating criminal offenses. One makes it a felony to cut a twig from an apple tree or from any other kind of tree and carry it off. Removing anything of the kind from anything which is a fixture upon the soil is larceny. The next section makes it an offense punishable with death to incite insurrection or sedition among any portion or class of the population. That is an excellent law. That is a law which ought to have existed there a great many years ago. That is a law which ought to be enacted by the Congress of the United States this very session for the government of the people of the United States. That is a law which if it had existed a few years ago and had been executed would have spared the people of the United States from the horrors of this war through which we have waded, and would have sent to the gallows most, if not all, the men who propose this sort of legislation for the government of the freed population of Florida at the present time.
"Whenever fines are imposed as penalties, standing in the pillory and whipping may be substituted," the commissioners propose; why? They explain in this report. They say it will not do to degrade the white man by punishment; it makes bad citizens of them, therefore you must not make them stand in the pillory, you must not whip them; but it will not do to rest upon fines as a punishment for the colored population, because they are poor, a great many of them, and they cannot pay these fines, and therefore it only punishes the State, it only punishes the county; it does not punish the colored individual or freedman. That is the argument; so that, in addition to imposing fines which are to be collected from their estates, if they have any, and which, if they have not, are to be collected by selling their services at auction to the highest bidder, there is superadded the provision that if the fine cannot be collected by either of these modes, they may be put in the pillory or be whipped. How are these penalties graduated? The eighth section of the bill declares -
"That if any person shall, in the night time, break and enter into any house or building, not the subject of burglary, or shall, in the day time, break and enter into any mansion or other house, with intent to commit a felony, he shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding $1000, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, or by standing in the pillory for one hour, or by whipping, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes, or by both whipping and standing in the pillory, at the discretion of the jury."
A thousand dollars! That sells a negro for his life. It will take him his lifetime to work out that thousand dollars. The tenth section declares -
"That every trespass upon the property of another, committed with a malicious and mischievous intent, the punishment for which is not provided for by law, shall be deemed and held to be an act of malicious mischief,' and the party guilty of the same, his aiders and abettors, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding $1000, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, or by standing in the pillory for one hour, or by whipping, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes, or by both whipping and standing in the pillory, at the discretion of the jury."
Going across a piece of pasture ground, traveling through a forest belonging to an individual, cutting a twig from a standing tree, anything which amounts to a trespass wilfully done may be punished by a fine not exceeding $1000, which may be collected by selling the services of the man until he can work out the fine; and yet we are told this community has given up its whole cause, surrendered everything, and is only providing for the peace of the community and its good order. Here is another provision:
"That if any negro, mulatto, or other person of color shall intrude himself into any religious or other public assembly of white persons, or into any railroad car or other public vehicle set apart for the exclusive accommodation of white people, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be sentenced to stand in the pillory for one hour, or be whipped not exceeding thirty-nine stripes, or both, at the discretion of the jury."
Recollect that this county criminal court is given jurisdiction of all offenses against religion, charity, morality, and decency. Provide this court for the punishment of offenses against religion, and then by this other chapter in the same code close the houses of worship against the admission of the negro; make him submit to the precepts of religion and deny to him all religious instruction; that is the effect of the two provisions standing together!
Another bill is to be entitled, "An act in relation to the contracts of persons of color." It provides that contracts are to be in writing, and -
"That when any person of color shall enter into a contract as aforesaid, to serve as a laborer for a year, or any other specified term, on any farm or plantation in this State, if he shall refuse or neglect to perform the stipulations of his contract by wilful disobedience of orders, wanton impudence, or disrespect to his employer or his authorized agent, failure or refusal to perform the work assigned to him, idleness, or abandonment of the premises or the employment of the party with whom the contract was made, he or she shall be liable, upon the complaint of his employer, or his agent, made under oath before any justice of the peace of the county, to be arrested and tried before the criminal court of the county, and upon conviction shall be subject to all the pains and penalties proscribed for the punishment of vagrancy."
Recollect, Mr. President, these are laws provided for a
population made free by your laws, but who we are told are very
ignorant and degraded and debased. They say they must have the right
to make contracts for their labor, and here is a tribunal created for
the express purpose of not only making these parties specifically
perform these contracts, but of enforcing personal respect toward the
employer and the agent of the employer on the part of these ignorant
and degraded men during the time for which the contract is made.
The county court is to make ignorance respectful, to punish men who have never been taught what is respect or what is the want of it, for any disrespect, for a breach of good manners, for want of politeness; to punish the lowest class of population, they say, that exists on this continent. This is the sort of legislation proposed in that district of Florida which we are told is farthest advanced in the way of repentance and reconstruction....
Sir, I put it to you, which of all those miscreants who went out to capture Jesus do you think was really the most criminal? Were they who went out with swords and staves in their hands, avowing their purpose and clamoring for the life of the Savior, or was it that sneaking fellow who went out in the garb of a friend and undertook to betray the Savior of the world with a kiss? I say it was not the servants of the high priest, but it was Judas himself. And among all those men who have sought to betray the authority of the nation I say those are the guiltiest who have not avowed their purpose, but have gone directly and as persistently toward it under the cover of false pretensions of loyalty. (pp. 443-45)
[Rep.] ELIOT. Mr. Speaker, on the 3rd day of last March the bill
establishing the Freedman's Bureau became law. It was novel
legislation, without precedent in the history of any nation, rendered
necessary by the rebellion of eleven slave States and the consequent
liberation from slavery of four million persons whose unpaid labor
had enriched the lands and impoverished the hearts of their
relentless masters. No thoughtful man could have observed the early
successes of out Union armies without discerning the great work which
final triumph would render needful. The rebellion miserably failed;
but its failure has affected a revolution greater than its success
could have achieved - a revolution in the industrial and social
systems of all the southern States. So it is that good is educed from
evil. That is a revolution that cannot go backward, nor can its
far-extending influence be bounded by the States where it began. The
South was poisoned by slavery, but South and North will be braced to
fresher health and inspired to higher life by freedom. Already we
feel the life-giving impulses. The slave becomes freedman, and the
freedman man, and the man citizen, and the citizen must be endowed
with all the rights wich other men possess.
Say not, my friends, this must not be, for truly it must be! Resist it not! Fight not against it, lest you hear the voice of old, "Saul! Saul! Why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
"The great objects of humanity are best attained when conformed to His laws in the formation of Governments as well as in all things else." That is what the rebel vice president Stephen's said. "Our confederacy," he continued, "is founded on principles in strict conformity with those laws. This stone which was first rejected by the builders is become the chief stone of the corner' in our new edifice.' That blasphemy has been punished....
The law was approved on the 3rd of March, 1865. Nine months have not elapsed since its organization. The order from the War Department under which the bureau was organized bears date on the 12th of May, 1865. General Howard, who was then in command of the department of Tennessee, was assigned as Commissioner of the bureau.... And I believe it has been his policy throughout, that while the freedman should understand that he was truly free, he should not, if he was able to work, entertain the thought that the Government, by reason of the existence of this bureau, was disposed or intended to support him in idleness....
It was stated, and has been found to be correct, that the demand for labor would be sufficient to afford occupation to neatly all those classed as freedmen who were able to work.
The assistant commissioners were enjoined to effect as rapidly as they could complete organization for labor, and to provide that that labor should be fairly compensated. It was not found practicable to determine the rates of wages, but the officers of the bureau were instructed carefully to inquire, and having ascertained what amount of compensation had ordinarily, at the places where the inquiry was made, been previously paid to masters who had hired out labor, they would be able from that to form a pretty correct opinion as to the true value of it, and that the wages fixed upon for freedmen should be determined by the result of such inquiry....
The commissioners were instructed to permit the freedmen to select their own employers and to chose their own kind of service. All agreements were ordered to be free and mutual, and not to be compulsory. The whole system that had prevailed of overseer labor was ordered to be repudiated by the commissioners whom had charge of the laborers, and I believe there has been no time since the organization of the bureau when there have not been reports made to the headquarters at Washington of all labor contracts; and wherever any provisions had been inserted, by inadvertence or otherwise, that seemed unjustly to operate upon the freedmen, they have been stricken out by the direction of the Commissioner here. Perhaps I may say that the other day a resolution of inquiry was directed to the select committee whether certain contracts had been permitted that were offensive to our sense of right and oppressive to the freedmen, and the committee, in the course of their investigation, ascertained that in no instance had any such contract, if made, received the assent of the Commissioner here, but that, without exception, all contracts which had been reported here at Washington had been so altered as they were free from any oppressive provisions and left to the freedman all the rights which as a citizen he ought to have in contracting for his work. (pp. 513-14)
Mr. [Rep.] ELIOT. And I have here upon my table the proceedings of a meeting held in Virginia, at a place called Turkey Island, which is presided over by men of influence and property. That meeting was held within the last month. The following is the published account of their proceedings:
The James River Farmers and Negroes
On the 5th Instant a meeting of the James river farmers was
held at Turkey Island, Henrico county, for the purpose of adopting
some fixed rules and regulations for the government alike of the
farmers themselves and the freedmen employed by them. Colonel Hill
Carter, of Shirley, was called to the chair, and Major Charles
Pickett appointed secretary. After mature deliberation, the following
resolutions were adopted:
1. That toward all freedmen in our employ we will act justly, and that we consider the following rates of wages fair and liberal, and that we pledge ourselves not to exceed them.
2. A first-class field hand shall be paid by the year $130, a first-class field hand shall be paid by the month ten dollars, a second-class field hand shall be paid by the year $105, a second-class field hand shall be paid by the month eight dollars, a third-class field hand shall be paid by the year seventy dollars, a third-class field hand shall be paid by the month five dollars, a first-class woman (field hand) per month five dollars, second-class woman (field hand) per month three dollars.
3. The classes are described as follows: first-class field hand, plowman; second-class field hand, good general farm hand; third-class field hand, boy or old man.
4. Each hand hired by the year shall have deducted a "per diem" (pro rata) for sickness, holidays, or absence by leave of the employer.
5. Each hired hand by the month shall be subject to the same deductions as those hired by the year, and in addition shall be charged one dollar a month for their fuel during the months of December, January, February, and March.
6. For disobedience and insubordination, each hand will be charged one dollar.
7. For leaving the farm without permission, one dollar will be charged each hand, in addition to the loss of time.
8. Each hand will be held responsible for injury or loss to the stock and farming utelsils, if occasioned by negligence, and the amount deducted from his wages.
9. All of the hands will be required to submit to such rules, and work in such way and at such times, either night or day, as was formerly customary in section of the country. By this it is not meant that the farmers are to make a regular habit of requiring night work, but that they shall require such work only as it has been usual to have done at night.
10. Twenty-six working days shall be considered as a month.
11. The usual attendance on mules, horses, and all other stock will be required on Sundays and holidays.
12. Three quarters of an hour will be allowed for breakfast, and an hour for dinner, except during the months of June, July, and August, when an hour will be allowed for breakfast and an hour and a half for dinner.
13. No hand will be employed who has been discharged for misconduct or violation of contract.
14. Each hand employed by the month shall give his employer ten days' notice of his intention to leave, or forfeit one third of his month's wages.
15. Each hand hired by the year shall be paid quarterly, the employer always keeping the hand one month's wages in arrears.
16. The rations shall be as follows: for men, three pounds of meat per week; for women and boys, two pounds of meat per week, or its equivalent. For men, fifteen pounds of meal per week; for women and boys, twelve pounds of meal per week.
These proceedings were communicated to General Howard by the assistant commissioner of that district, and the following instructions were returned:
"The interests of the freedmen are committed by law to
"The spirit and letter of the regulations referred to are diametrically opposed to nearly every circular and order from this office.
"The freedmen referred to in the resolution are at liberty to enter into just such agreements or contracts as they please, and with whomsoever they please, and they will not be restrained from receiving as high wages as they can get.
"You will please communicate with the gentlemen named in the article, and inform them, and also the freedmen concerned, of the purposes and wishes of the Commissioner are herein set forth."
In Maryland the schools which have been established have been
interrupted, and it has been urged that according to the laws of the
State these schools must be closed.
In Mississippi houses have been burned and negroes have been murdered. In Alabama a new code, a slave code in fact, has been attempted to be passed, and gentlemen must have seen that in the Marlboro district in South Carolina, the planters have recently held meetings and resolved that the military power ought to be withdrawn and the freedmen compelled to work for their old masters. And so the word comes on from one to the other of these States, until it is reduced to a certainty that if the arm of the Government is withdrawn from protecting these men, and the powers of this bureau are not continued and enlarged, much injustice will be done to these freedmen, and there will be no one there to tell the story.
Mr. Speaker, while speaking of the lands on the Sea Islands I intended to refer to the testimony which I have before me, coming from a young woman from my own city, known to me as earnest, intelligent, and cultivated. She went as a teacher to these islands, and her life has already been a sacrifice on her behalf. From her last report I give this extract, referring to General Howard's visit to them in October last:
"The minds of the people are greatly agitated by the late
visit of General Howard and some members of his staff, with two of
the former owners on this island. His coming was sudden and
unexpected to all. We had heard rumors that some of the former owners
were coming back, but did not believe, after the promises made to
these people, that they would be allowed to regain their lands on
this island. Unfortunately, we did not learn of the meeting held for
General Howard till the day after, as we are miles from everybody and
everything; but we attended the second held by the people, at which a
paper was read, which had been drawn up by a committee from among
them, to state their feelings on the subject, and was to be sent to
the General. There is but one sentiment. We will not work for
our former masters.' is the cry from one and all. What troubles them
most is, that, if the owners do come back, they, the colored people,
will not be allowed to purchase one foot of land. Their longing is to
have a homestead; and for this they are willing to work, paying a
"At a meeting held this week they decided, if the planters come back, to leave the island. But, poor things, where can they go? General Howard saw plainly their feelings on the subject, and apparently the matter was painful to him. His kind, truthful manner won their confidence and respect. The matter was put to vote: How many will work for their former masters?' None, or almost none, raised their hands. He saw how they felt, and asked how many would trust the question to him, feeling that he would do all he could that justice should be done to them. They understood and appreciated his feeling. All raised their hands; and how another man stands in their minds with our dear President Lincoln, General Sherman, and General Saxton - General Howard. The day after the meeting many people came to us, asking us to explain things to them saying, they had n't learning and couldn't understand.' We did the best we could, tying to calm their minds, to hold forth no brighter prospects than we could see ourselves, and to lead them to trust those who had the matter in charge, promising that we all that we could do for them. It will be terribly cruel if these people are again to flee for freedom. They can, without any question, support themselves, their poor, and their aged, in a year or less, if they have the opportunity, if they have the privilege of buying land, working, and paying for it. Many who have been here for a year have excellent crops of cotton, corn, and rice, which will be ample for their support till the next harvest.
"Last Sunday night, taking my Bible, I went to one of the cabins and read to those who were gathered there the first eight chapters of Exodus; and it was interesting to hear the old men apply the situation of the Israelites, after they were freed from their bondage in Egypt, to their own present situation; and my reading was often interrupted by questions or exclamations. How thankful I was that I was with them, and could in some slight degree assist them - leading them in the first steps of knowledge.
"There is a great need for more laborers here - real, earnest workers, working with heart and hand for these needy people." (pp. 517)
Mr. [Senator] DAVIS. My position is that this is a white man's Government. It was made so at the beginning. The charters that were granted by the different sovereigns of England to the various colonies were granted to white men and included nobody but white men. They did not include Indians. They did not include negroes. (pg. 528)
Mr. [Senator] CLARK. I deny that, because in some of the States he is a part of the governing power. The Senator only begs the question; it only comes back to this; that a nigger is a nigger. [Laughter] (pg. 529)
[Rep.] DONNELLY. We have liberated four million slaves in the South.
It is proposed by some that we stop right here and do nothing more. Such a course would be a cruel mockery....
These men are without education, and morally and intellectually degraded by centuries of bondage. They have neither the arts nor the knowledge nor the power of combination to protect themselves against the superior race from whose grasp they have just been forcibly wrested. That race did not willingly yield them up; to abandon them to their former masters would be to consign them once more to inevitable slavery. The master would have every inducement to reënslave his former bondsman, and not a single barrier would stand in his way.
But it may be said that the amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery would protect them. Sir, a grand abstract declaration, unenforced by the arm of authority, is not a protection.
But gentlemen seem to forget that slavery is not confined to any precise condition. Every country tolerating slavery has affixed to it conditions peculiar to itself. The old Roman slavery was in many essentials different from the southern institution, and modern slavery has presented many different phases.
Slavery consists in a deprivation of natural rights. A man may be a slave for a term of years as fully as though he were held for life; he may be a slave when deprived of a portion of the wages of his labor as fully as if deprived of all; he may be held down by unjust laws to a degraded and defenseless condition as fully as though his wrists were manacled; he may be oppressed by a convocation of masters called a Legislature as fully as by a single master. In short, he who is not entirely free is necessarily a slave.
What has the South done for the black man since the close of the rebellion?
Let us examine the black codes of the different States adopted since that time.
In South Carolina it is provided that all male negroes between two and twenty, and all females between two and eighteen, shall be bound out to some" master." The adult negro is compelled to enter into contract with a master, and the district judge, not the laborer, is to fix the value of the labor. If he thinks the compensation too small and will not work, he is a vagrant, and can be hired out for a term of service at a rate to be fixed by the judge. If a hired negro leaves his employer he forfeits his wages for the whole year.
The black code of Mississippi provides that no negro shall own or hire lands in the State; that he shall not sue nor testify in court against a white man; that he must be employed by a master before the second Monday in January, or he will be bound out - in other words, sold into slavery; that if he runs away the master may recover him and deduct the expenses out of his wages; and that if another man employs him he will be liable to an action for damages. It is true that the President has directed General Thomas to disregard this code; but the moment the military force is withdrawn from the State that order will be of no effect.
The black code of Alabama provides that if a negro who has contracted to labor fails to do so he shall be punished with damages; and if he runs away he shall be punished as a vagrant, which probably means he shall be sold to the highest bidder for a term of years; and that any person who entices him to leave his master, as by the offer of better wages, shall be guilty of a mistemeanor, and may be sent to jail for six months; and further, that these regulations include all persons of negro blood to the third generation, though one parent in each generation shall be pure white; that is, down to the man who has but one eighth negro blood in his veins.
The Mississippi Legislature passes a law prohibiting negroes from acquiring lands or real estate. This was promptly overruled by the United States authorities. Whereupon the Legislatures of Mississippi and Alabama passed laws making the owner of property, who rents a negro a house or land, responsible for everything he buys - his meat, his bread, his doctor's bill, and even his taxes. Of course, no one will rent a black man a house or lease him land under such a law; and of course also the negro will have to be driven out upon the highway and become a vagrant, and thus be subject to the vagrant law.
The black code of Tennessee provides that a vagrant negro may be sold to the highest bidder to pay his jail fees; and to make sure he be kept a vagrant no housekeeper shall harbor him; his children may be bound out against his wish to a master by the county court; if his master fails to pay him he cannot sue him or testify against him. It further provides that colored children shall not be admitted into the same schools with white children, while it makes no provision for their education in separate schools.
The black code of Virginia provides that any man who will not work for "the common wages given to other laborers" shall be deemed a vagrant; the master have formed combinations and have put down the rate of wages to the freedmen below a living price; the negro who refuses to work for these wages is seized as a vagrant, sold to service "for the best wages that can be procured" for three months; if he runs off he shall work another month with ball and chain for nothing.
It is true that General Terry has declared that the order shall not be enforced; but of what avail will this be when the military are withdrawn and Virginia is reconstructed?
All this means simply the reestablishment of slavery:
1. He shall work at a rate of wages to be fixed by a county judge or a Legislature made up of white masters, or by combinations, of white masters, and not in any case by himself.
2. He shall not leave that master to enter service with another. If he does he is pursued as a fugitive, charged with the expense of his recapture, and made to labor for an additional period, while man that induced him to leave is sent to jail.
3. His children are taken from him and sold into virtual slavery.
4. If he refuses to work he is sold to the highest bidder for a term of months or years, and becomes in fact a slave.
5. He cannot better his condition; there is no future for him; he shall not own property; he shall not superintend the education of his children; neither will the State educate them.
6. If he is wronged he has no remedy, for the courts are closed against him.
Said a Georgian the other day:
"The blacks cat, sleep, move, live, only by the tolerance of the whites, who hate them. The blacks own absolutely nothing but their bodies; their former masters own everything, and will sell them nothing. If a black man even draws a bucket of water from a well, he must first get the permission of a white man, his enemy. If he sleeps in a house overnight, it is only by the leave of a white man. If he buys a loaf of bread, he must buy of a white man. If he asks for work to earn his living, he must ask it of a white man; and the whites are determined to give him no work, except on such terms as will make him a serf and impair his liberty."
This, then, is slavery, less the protection the master formerly afforded his chattel. The slave now has a mob for his master. General Schurz says, in his admirable report:
"The emancipation of the slaves submitted to only in so far as chattel slavery in the old form could not be kept up. But although the freedman is no longer considered the property of the individual master, he is considered the slave of society; and all independent State legislation will show the tendency to make him such. The ordinance abolishing slavery, passed by the conventions under the pressure of circumstances, will not be looked upon as barring the establishment of a new form of servitude."
The enemies of the black man, those who opposed his
liberation, now point to him and say, "See the condition to
which you have reduced him. He is worse off than before. His race is
perishing from the face of the earth under the innumerable miseries
which liberty has inflicted upon it."
For one, with the help of Almighty God, I shall never consent to such cruel injustice. Having voted to give the negro liberty, I shall to give him all things essential to liberty.
If degradation and oppression have, as it is alleged, unfitted him for freedom, surely continued degradation and oppression will not prepare him for it. If he is not to remain a brute you must give him that which will make him a man - opportunity. If he is, as it is claimed, an inferior being and unable to compete with the white man on terms of equality, surely you will not add to the injustice of nature by casting him beneath the feet of a white man. With what face can you reproach him with his degradation at the moment you are striving to still degrade him? If he is, as you say, not fit to vote, give him a chance; let him make himself an independent laborer like yourself; let him own his homestead; let the courts of justice be opened to him; and let his intellect, darkened by centuries of neglect, be illuminated by all the glorious lights of education. If after all this he proves himself an unworthy savage and brutal wretch, condemn him, but no until then.
He must have this opportunity. He cannot remain in an amphibious condition between liberty and slavery. He must either be full slave or full freeman....
Mr. Speaker, it is as plain to my mind as the sun at noonday, that we must make all the citizens of the country equal before the law; that we must break down all walls of caste; that we must offer equal opportunities to all men.(pp. 588-89)
[Senator] TRUMBULL. Mr. President, I will occupy a very few moments
of the attention of the Senate after this long harangue of the
Senator from Kentucky, which he closed by delaring that we are dumb
in the presence of military power. If he has satisfied the Senate
that he is dumb, I presume he has satisfied the Senate of all the
other positions he has taken; and the others are just about as sbsurd
as that declaration. He denounces this bill as "outrageous,"
"most monstrous," "abominable,"
Sir, now what is this bill that is obnoxious to such terrible epithets? It is abill providing that all people shall have equal rights. Is not that abominable? Is not that iniquitous? Is not that monstrous? Is not that terrible on white men? [Laughter] When was such legislation as this ever thought of for white men?
Sir, this bill applies to white men as well as black men. It declares that all persons in the United States shall be entitled to the same civil rights, the right to the fruit of their own labor, the right to make contracts, the right to buy and sell, and enjoy liberty and happiness; and that is abominable and iniquitous and unconstitutional! Could anything be more monstrous or more abominable than for a member of the Senate to rise in his place and denounce with such epithets as these a bill, the only object of which is to secure equal rights to all the citizens of the country, a bill that protects a white man just as much as a black man? With what consistency and with what face can a Senator in his place here say to the Senate and the country that this is a bill for the benefit of black men exclusively when there is no such distinction in it, and when the very object of the bill is to break down all discrimination between black men and white men? (pg. 599)
Mr. [Rep.] HUBBARD. Mr. Speaker, I feel proud of my country when I behold it stretching out its strong arm of power to protect the poor, the ignorant, the weak, and the oppressed. (pg. 630)
Mr. [Rep.] MOULTON. There is another reason why I understand gentlemen on the other side oppose this bill. The object of the bill is to protect the colored man.. The pro-slavery party on the other side of the House from the foundation of the Government up to the present time have done everything they could against ameliorating the condition of the colored men. No act was ever passed or proposed to be passed for the benefit of the colored man that the Democratic party, the pro-slavery party, did not vote against it. It would have been inconsistent if they had not opposed this bill. One object of the bill is to ameliorate the condition of the colored man and to protect him against the rapacity and violence of his southern persecutors. (pg. 631)
Mr. [Rep.] McKEE. No warrant in the Constitution for this law! None!
I make the same response to that I have to the assumptions of
gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. They have been
proclaiming all the time we have had no warrant for anything we have
done. They have said there was no authority in the President to
appoint provisional governors for the rebel states. Yet they come
here as champions for the President and his policy....
Is it humiliation to that people to be brought under the same laws by which we are bound? We do not ask them to submit to anything that we are not willing to be bound by. Is that humiliation? To the proud and chivalric sons of the south it may be. To the Virginia and South Carolina slaveocracy perhaps it is. But they must learn that they lord it over their hundred slaves no longer. (pg. 653)
Mr. [Rep.] ELIOT. My impression is that I have had the report of
General Fisk for about a week. The two letter accompanying it I have
From the report of Colonel Whittlesey, assistant commissioner of North Carolina, I present the following extract.
"The method pursued may be best presented by citing a few
cases, and the action thereon. From the report of Captain James, for
August, I quote the following:
"I forewarned you, in his own language, a report of a case which occurred in Gates county, on the northern border of the State, far away from any influence of troops, and where the military power of the Government had been little felt. No doubt it illustrates others in similar localities far from garrisons and northern influences. The report will repay perusal, and appears to have been managed with admirable tact on the part of Captain Hill. Reports had reached me of the way in which David Parker, of Gates county, treated his colored people, and I determined to ascertain for myself their truth. Accordingly last Monday, August 20, accompanied by a guard of six men from this post, (Elizabeth City), I proceeded to his residence, about forty miles distant. He is very wealthy. I ascertained, after due investigation, and after convincing his colored people that I was really their friend, that the worst reports of him were true. He had twenty-three negroes on his farm, large and small. Of these fourteen were field hands. They all bore unmistakable evidence of the way they had been worked. Very much undersized, rarely exceeding, man or woman, four feet six inches. Men and women of forty years of age looking like boys and girls. It has been his habit for years to work them from sunrise to sunset, and often long after, only stopping one hour for dinner - food always cooked for them to save time. He had and has had for many years an old colored man, one-eyed and worn out in the service, for an overseer or over-looker,' as he called himself. In addition, he has two sons at home, one of whom has made it a point to be with them all summer long - not so much to superintend as to drive. The old colored overseer always went behind the gang with a cane or whip, and woe betide the unlucky wretch who did not continually do his part. He had been brought up to work, and had not the least pity for anyone who could not work as well as he.
"Mr Parker told me that he had hired his people for the season: that directly after the surrender of General Lee he called them up, told them they were free, that he was better used to them than to others, and would prefer hiring them, that he would give them board and two suits of clothing to stay with him till the first day of January, 1866, and one Sunday suit at the end of that time, that they consented willingly - in fact preferred to remain with him, &c. But from his people I learned that though he did call them up, as stated, yet when one of them demurred at the offer, his son James flew at him and cuffed and kicked him; that after that, they were all perfectly willing to stay; they were watched night and day; that Bob, one of the men, had been chained nights, that they were actually afraid to try and get away. There was no complaint of the food, nor much of the clothing; but they were in constant terror of the whip. Only three days before my arrival Bab had been stripped in the field and given fifty lashes, for hitting Adam, the colored over-looker, while James Parker stood by with a gun, and told him to run if he wanted to, he had a gun there. About four weeks before, four of them who went to church and returned before sunset, were treated to twenty-five lashes each. Some were beaten or whipped almost every day. Having ascertained these and other similar facts, I directed him to call them up and pay them from the first of May up to the present time. I investigated each case, taking into consideratin age, family, physical condition, &c., estimating their work from eight dollars down, and saw him pay them off then and there, allowing for clothing and medical bill. Then I arrested him and his two sons, and brought them here, except Dr. Joseph Parker, whose sister is very sick, with all the colored people I thought necessary as witnesses, intending to send them to New Bern for trial. But on the count of the want for immediate transportation I concluded to release them on their giving bond in the sum of $2000 to Colonel E. Whittlesey, assistant commissioner for the State of North Carolina, and to his successors in office, conditional as follows:
"That whereas David Parker and James Parker have maltreated their colored people, and have enforced the compulsory system instead of the free-labor system, now, therefore, if they, each of them, shall hereinafter and kindly treat, and cause to be treated, the hired laborers under their or his charge, and shall adopt the free-labor system in lieu of the compulsory system, then this bond to be void and no effect, otherwise to remain in full force and effect, with good security.'
"Lieutenant Colonel Clapp, superintendent central district, reports three cases of cruel beating, which have been investigated, and the offenders turned over to the military authorities for trial: besides very many instances of defrauding freedmen of their wages." (pg. 657)
Mr. [Rep.] HUBBELL. Prior to the war, for thirty years, with the exception of short intervals, the political power of the Government was controlled by that section that attempted to establish the so-called "confederate States of America." The leaders of the rebellion were the great barons and constituted the aristocracy of our country. They monopolized in the Senate, in the Cabinet, and in the field every place of honor and emolument. In all sectional and political controversies they were successful. Their treason, in the vain attempt to destroy out Government, has converted their opulence into poverty; their States have been desolated by war; their families and their kindred have been slain in battle, and the peculiar institution whose area and power it was their great purpose to enlarge and strengthen has been utterly and forever destroyed. Executive clemency alone can save them from exile, the prison, aan the scaffold. In view of their treason and horrid crimes, who can say that this terrible retribution is not just, or that this punishment is not merited? (pg. 659)
Mr. [Rep.] LeBLOND. Why, sir, what is the use of giving liberty and the right of suffrage to men, if you say that they shall not have the right to live and support themselves by honest labor? Unless you grant them this, you give them a stone when they ask for bread. (pg. 717)
Mr. [Rep.] KELSO. Slavery is said to be abolished. In name it is, but
not in reality. Of right the negroes always were free; but what good
did the right do them when freedom itself was withheld? So with the
name of freedom now, what good will that do them if the substance is
withheld? They have been proclaimed free, but has that made them so?
Were I to see you drowning, and were to proclaim you free from that
danger, and then leave you without help, what good would my
proclamation do you? Were I to find you hungry and cold, and were
merely to proclaim that you were clothed and fed, would that
proclamation be real food and clothing?
It would certainly be as real as is the liberty which we have bestowed upon the slaves. We have only deprived them of the protection of their owners, who had the same interest in their safety as they has in the safety of their horses or oxen. Now they have the protection of no one, and are the slaves of all their enemies. When the negro was an ox, he had the protection of an ox. Now that he is half man and half ox, he is regarded as a monster, and receives no protection at all. (pg. 733)
Mr. [Rep.] WARD. You say that they have given a colored man a
standing in court. Aye, so had Robert Emmett before his English
murderers! So had the early martyrs in councils convened to take
their lives! So had Jesus of Nazareth in the court of Pilate! A
standing in court, with, as I have said, hostile judges, jurors,
witnesses, church and state all hostile. Such a standing in court is
mockery; it is worse, it is insult.
But we are told that these are "honorable men," and will live up to the oaths they have taken. "Honorable men" who butchered helpless women and crushed out the brains of little children at Lawrence, who murdered in cold blood prisoners of war at Fort Pillow, who stood by with infernal malice and saw the flesh shrink month by month, week by week, day by day from the bones of thirty thousand as brave and noble men as ever went forth to save a nation, until their strong frames tottered, their eyes grew dim, and suffering all the tortures of the damned, gnashed their teeth and wailed for food until the mind went wandering back to home and wife, mother and child, and they called on sacred names and laughed the maniac's laugh, and moaned and cried for bread, and died for want of food. In this land of plenty, in the land they had gone to save, on the slimy couch where the vermin crawled, trampled into the wet earth or over the "dead line," in tatters, in rags, in awful stench and filth, with dead men in heaps around them, they died, and Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, and all the rest of these "honorable men," stood by upholding the hellish deed. God save the nation from such "honorable men"! (pg. 783)
[Rep.] NEWELL. Thus, instead, as the fathers intended, of freedom
being the rule and slavery the exception, on account of the
encroachments of this institution, and the ambitious designs of those
who used it as an engine of political power, there was a danger that
slavery would become the rule and freedom the exception. It aspired
to make every department of the Government to itself and its
interests. It poisoned also the social life of the people, undermined
their belief in self-government, weakened their faith in the
principle on which Government was founded, the principle of universal
suffrage; in fine, it had so succeeded in debauching the conscience
of a large mass of the people as to render them fit tools in the
hands of men who were determined that slavery should rule the country
or that they would dissolve the Union.
And so this Constitution of our fathers, because of the existence of an element foreign to its genius and principles, flatly subversive of the ideas on which it was founded, and which gave the lie direct to its declaration of rights, was in such danger of utter destruction that the patriotic people of the nation found themselves compelled to abandon it altogether as the ægis of their liberty and safety or take up arms in its defense. This latter alternative was taken, and the result was that the contest so long waged between individual State liberty and national security was finally and forever decided by the ultima ratio of nations and of war.
For years the contest between the doctrines represented by Thomas Jefferson on the one hand, and Alexander Hamilton on the other, convulsed the country. The State-rights men demanded one concession after another in favor of slavery. It was at one time the right to capture and to aid in capture; at another, the right to carry into Territories; at another, the right of passage through and domicil in the States; at another, the principle that the Constitution carried it everywhere, and at all times; and finally, the culminating right, that of session from the Union in order to build up a confederation of which it was to be the chief cornerstone. Jefferson's idea of State rights was simply the conservation of individual and State rights. The idea of the latter-day pretended followers of Jefferson was that State rights was the liberty of one man to oppress his fellow, and that no power, not even the central authority itself, could intervene to shield the oppressed. This was the degeneration of a great principle of individual liberty, subordinated to social welfare, to the principle of the pirate or the robber who regards no law but brute force. And such degeneration showed that State rights, as understood by these bad men, had passed outside and beyond the pale of civilization itself, and thus became inimical not only to the people, but actually menaced the entire unity. (pp. 866-67)
Mr. [Rep.] LAWRENCE. A State government created and controlled by
national military power is after in fact and legal effect but a
military government under another name. (Cross v. Harrison, 16
I do not condemn the existence of this military power. The disloyal condition of the people renders it necessary. The necessity for its exercise is shown by military orders sanctioned by the President. Permit me to read some of them. Here is one:
[General Orders, No. 4]
Headquarters Department of Virginia,
Richmond, Va. January 21, 1866
By a statute law passed at the present session of the
Legislature of Virginia, entitled "A bill providing for the
punishment of vagrants," it is enacted, among other things, that
any justice of the peace, therein named, may issue his warrant for
the apprehension of any person alleged to be a vagrant, and cause
such person to be apprehended and brought before him; and that if,
upon due examination, said vagrant within the definition of vagrancy
contained in said statute he shall issue his warrant directing such
person to be employed for a term not exceeding three months, and by
any constable of the county wherein the proceedings are had, be hired
out for the best wages that can be procured, his wages to be applied
to the support of himself and his family.
The said statute further provides, that in case any vagrant so hired shall during his term of service run away from his employer without sufficient cause, he shall be apprehended on the warrant of a justice of the peace, and returned to the custody of his employer, who shall then have, free from any further hire, the services of such vagrant for one month, in addition to the other term of hiring; and that the employer shall then have power, if authorized by a justice of the peace, to work such vagrant with ball and chain.
The said statute specifies the persons who shall be considered vagrants and be liable to the penalties imposed by it. Among those declared to be vagrants are "all persons who, not having the wherewith to support their families, live idly and without employment, and refuse to work for the usual and common wages given to other laborers, in the like work, in the place where they then are."
In many counties of this State, meetings of employers had been held, and unjust and wrongful combinations have been entered into for the purpose of depressing the wages of the freedmen below the real value of their labor, far below the prices formerly paid to masters for labor performed by their slaves.
By reason of these combinations, wages utterly inadequate to the support of themselves and their families have, in many places, become the usual and common wages of the freedmen.
The effect of this statute in question will be, therefore, to compel the freedmen, under penalty of punishment as criminals, to accept and labor for the wages established by these combinations of employers. It places them wholly in the power of their employers, and it is easy to foresee that, even where no such combination now exists, the temptation to form them, offered by the statute, will be too string to be resisted, and that such inadequate wages will become the common and usual wages throughout the State.
The ultimate effect of the statute will be to reduce the freedmen to a condition of servitude worse than that from which they were emancipated - a condition which will be slavery in all but its name.
It is, therefore, ordered that no magistrate, civil officer, or other person, shall in any manner apply, or attempt to apply, the provision of said colored person in this department.
By command of Major General Terry:
EDWARD. W. SMITH,
Assistant Adjutant General.
And in South Carolina, General Sickles has found it necessary to protect the freedman by similar orders. Here is one:
[General Orders, No. 1]
Headquarters Department of South Carolina,
Charleston, January 17, 1866
III. All the employments of husbandry or the useful arts, and
all lawful, trades or callings may be followed by all persons
irrespective of color or caste; nor shall any freedman be obliged to
pay any tax or any fee for a license, nor be amenable to any
municipal or parish ordinance, not imposed upon other persons.
IV. The lawful industry of all persons who live under the protection of the United States, and owe obedience to its laws, being useful to the individual and essential to the welfare of society, no person will be restrained from seeking employment when not bound by voluntary agreement, nor hindered from traveling from place to place, on lawful business. All combinations or agreements which are intended to hinder, or may so operate as to hinder, in any way, the employment of labor - or to limit compensation for labor - or to compel labor to be involuntary performed in certain places or for certain persons; as well as all combinations or agreements to prevent the sale or hire of lands or tenements, are declared to be misdemeanors; and any person or persons convicted thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment, not to exceed six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
V. Agreements for labor or personal service of any kind, or for the use and occupation of lands and tenements, or for any other lawful purpose, between freedmen and other persons, when fairly made, will be impartially enforced against either party violating the same. (pg. 908)
Mr. [Senator] FESSENDEN. ...I will ask the Secretary to read an
extract which I have marked from a report in the Morning Chronicle of
a speech made by the President of the United States to his fellow citizens.
The Secretary read as follows:
"We find that Government can be revolutionized, can be changed, without going to the battle-field. Sometimes revolutions, the most disastrous to the people, are effected without the shedding of blood. The substance of government may be taken away while the form and shadow is still adhered to." (pg. 984)
[Rep.] CLARKE. ...The gentleman fortified his constitutional
argument by the theological one affirming that neither Christ nor His
apostles ever condemned slavery, although they lived all their lives
in a land of slaves.
Let us look where this would lead. I do not propose to answer the gentleman, but to say that he has got off the negro there, unconsciously, of course. It is true that Rome, in the days of Christ and His apostles, from her seven-hilled city ruled the world and filled it with slaves. But they were not negroes. Our ancestors from England were bought and sold like sheep and oxen in her shambles. If Christ and His apostles sanctioned slavery then, it was the enslavement of white men, and our ancestors among them. And Athens, that other miscalled republic, was also referrd to as holding slaves. She did so, but they were not negroes. Her twenty-five thousand citizens held five hundred thousand slaves. But, sir, they were as white as their masters. Sir, every such argument is an argument for the enslavement of white men. Are gentlemen ready to go before the country on that issue?
But here the gentleman turns round and, leaving his Bible argument, lights again upon the negro, and declares, in justification of the system, that he has always been a slave. I deny the fact. The enslavement of the negro is of modern invention. But it would be very dangerous as well as illogical to make it a justification of slavery. Has not the white man been enslaved, too? I have just shown that the slaves of Greece and Rome were white. And has freedom been the happy lot of all white men in modern times? Go to the slave markets of Constantinople, today, and you will see the whitest people of Europe upon the auction-block - the beautiful virgins of Cireassia and Georgia. Go to Russia, and of all her twenty-five million of late slaves, just emancipated, thank God! There was not a negro. And even in our own sunny South the negro was fast disappearing, and the blood of the chivalry blushed in the bleached cheeks of her slaves as they sold their own sons and daughters. And why not? Is it any more wrong to enslave a white man than a black one? And would he who justifies the enslavement of the negro on any of these grounds hesitate to enslave you, Mr. Speaker, and your children, if he had the power? Why, one would think, from the speeches of gentlemen, that a white skin was everywhere a perfect protection from all wrong, and that nobody had ever been oppressed but the negro.
But is this so? Where are all the toiling millions of all the white nations today? Look at England! Look at Austria! Look at France! Look at all the petty despotisms of Europe that are grinding the toiling millions of the white race into the earth! What to tyrants care for the color of those they oppress? Did the perjured traitor who clambered over the hecatombs of his murdered countrymen to place the throne of his bastard empire upon the ruins of the republic he had sworn to support stop to look at the color of his victims? If I am rightly informed, the French people are not negroes! Sir, the inborn tyrant cares nothing for the color of those he tramples on. He would place his foot upon the naked, quivering, palpitating heart of humanity as a stepping stone to power; and this eternal harping upon the negro is continued here only because it is thought he can be used to arouse the prejudices of the selfish and brutal to the political advantage of those who have no other capital.
I must be permitted, Mr. Speaker, to refer for a moment to the one other gentleman, the gentleman from Kentucky. [Mr. Harding] He declared in his place that the constitutional amendment had robbed the slaveholders of Kentucky of $100,000,000! Yes! robbery was the word, and often repeated. You heard his demand for compensation. But how were they robbed? Strip the gentleman's speech of its superfluities and venom and it was just this: "We, the thirty thousand slaveholders of Kentucky, were living comfortably, and even luxuriantly, upon the negroes. When the negro earned a dollar we took it away from him and spent it. If he raised a chicken we went to the roost and carried it away and ate it. If we became hard up' to pay a debt of honor or otherwise, we went to his cabin and took one of his children and sold it, and if the frantic mother made an outcry we silenced her with the lash! This is the way we lived, and we lived well; and but for your tyrannical and unconstitutional interference we could have extorted and tortured $100,000,000 out of the negroes of that State. You have prevented us from doing this, and have thereby taken the bread from our mouths and left our wives and children to starve, and we therefore demanded compensation!" Sir, I have not misstated the gentleman's argument. I need not answer it.
We have had all this intermingled with interminable harangues about a white man's Government. I believe every gentleman on the other side has harped upon that string, assuring us that the essence of democracy is a white man's Government. Why sir, every despotism is Europe today is a white man's Government. We had that under the Democratic party, in the bosom of which the rebellion was hatched, and could have it again, under the same party, by admitting those same conspirators back to their vacant seats to join with those occupying like seats not vacated. For myself, Mr. Speaker, I prefer a republican Government, founded upon the rights of man and administered in equity, to a despotism, however white the despot may be.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to reply to several gentlemen on the other side, but as my time is growing short, and ammunition nearly exhausted, I shall not aim at any one in particular, but fire into the flock, and if one should happen to be hit we will know by the flattering. Sir, some of my friends on this side of the House cannot believe that gentlemen on the other side are in earnest in all this. I do not agree with them. I believe they are most thoroughly in earnest. I recently spent an hour in a madhouse. I there saw men in every stage of mania, and all in the most absolute earnest. Among them was a man of evident culture, who for six weary years had perambulated the halls of the institution with a paper fool's cap on his head for a crown and a straw in his hand for a scepter, proclaiming himself the Emperor of all the Indies. Touch his crown or his scepter and he went into spasms until it was returned. Now, does anyone suppose he could make such an exhibition of himself if he did not most thoroughly believe in the truth of his hallucination? No, the misfortune in his case was that he did believe it. And I am convinced that this is just what ails the gentlemen on the other side of the House. I have long believed the doctrine I'm advancing as a most rational theory, but wanted such practical examples as would place it among the philosophical axioms. Hence, while the gentlemen were giving utterance to their astounding vagaries I watched them with intense interest, believing that the curious phenomena thus exhibiting would either confirm my theory or forever upset it. I am happy to say that it is a theory no longer, but a truth demonstrated. For I declare here, that through all the amusing but sad performance I detected no blush on any cheek, nor a single face of all the performers suffused with shame. Could this have been the case if gentlemen had not believed what they said? Sir, if they had not believed their phantasies as undoubtedly my friend the Emperor of the Indies did his their cheeks must have flushed crimson though cased in triple plates of copper. Yes, they did believe it, and if gentlemen upon this floor, who have not a single negro to bless themselves with, can play such tricks upon their intellects, what might not the slaveholders themselves believe?
Sir, the slaveholders did bring themselves to believe that they had a right to hold slaves, that God and nature and the Constitution sanctified and sanctioned and guarantied it to them. And, so believing, the believed they had a right to all the means requisite to their full enjoyment of that guarantee. But they could not be secure in this right if the slaves were acknowledged to be men; and they therefore had the right to class and treat them as brutes and punish with death the crime of teaching a slave to read. Again, the system would not be secure if men in the slave States were permitted to discuss the matter in any form, and hence the freedom of speech and the press must be suppressed as the highest of crimes; and no man could utter the simplest truths but at the risk of his life. For more than a quarter of a century the world knew no despotism so absolute and relentless as that which ruled the South.
Again, they could not fully enjoy their guarantees if shut up in their original boundaries, and therefore they had a right to take them into all the common Territories. Need I repeat the story of Kansas which shook the nation to its center, and culminated in the immortal infamy of the Dred Scott decision? The dictum is there laid down that "Slaves are property, just as horses, and mules, and agricultural implements are property," and which has been so extravagantly eulogized upon this floor. From that dictum naturally unfolded the laws of Kansas, which, if in force today, , would hie you, Mr. Speaker, to the dungeon or the giblet, if found with a copy of the Chronicle or the Globe in your trunk, though used only as wrapping paper. And all that was right if slavery was right. But, by logical necessity, that same decision carried slavery with all its consequences into all the States. Under the Constitution the citizen of one State has a right to take his horses, his mules, and his agricultural implements into any other State and used and worked and sell them there. But if slaves were property under the Constitution, just as these were, then they might be taken into any other State and used and worked and sold there. No ingenuity can escape the conclusion if the premises are admitted. But if they had a right to take and hold their slaves in the free States, they had a right to do it in safety, and as they could not hold them safely where dissent was permitted, all dissent must be suppressed by the strong hand of power. Will any one dare to say that this would not have been the next step if the Democratic party had continued in power? No honest man doubts it. And can any one fail to see that this conflict has progressed until the contending forces were brought face to face, and that only one of two things remained possible - either the utter destruction of slavery or the total extinguishment of freedom. (pg. 1013) [note: I highly recommend reading CLARKE's entire speech.]
Mr. [Rep.] THAYER. Sir, what kind of freedom is that which is given by the amendment of the Constitution, if it is confined simply to the exemption of freedmen from sale and barter? Do you give freedom to a man when allow him to be deprived of those great natural rights to which every man is entitled by nature? I ask the Democratic members of this House, what kind of freedom is that by which the man placed in a state of freedom is subject to the tyranny of laws which deprive him of rights which the humblest citizen in every State in Christendom enjoys? What kind of freedom is that under which a man may be deprived of the right of going at his own volition from one place to another; may be deprived of the ability to make a contract; may be deprived of the ability to sell or convey real or personal estate; may be deprived of the liberty to engage in the ordinary pursuits of civilized life; may be deprived of the right to be a party or a witness in a court of justice, or may be subjected to pains and penalties which are not inflicted upon other citizens? (pg. 1152)
[Rep.] WINDOM. I do this for the purpose of showing how much the
Democracy really love liberty. They say they will go to any length to
give liberty to the slave, but when there has been an amendment
proposed to the Constitution to accomplish that end, they thank God
that their consciences are clear and they can sleep soundly at o'
nights because they did not vote for it....
It merely provides safeguards to shield them from wrong and outrage, and to protect them in the enjoyment of that lowest right of human nature, the right to exist. Its object is to secure to a poor, weak class of laborers the right to make contracts for their labor, the power to enforce the payment of their wages, and the means of holding and enjoying the proceeds of their toil.
Who can deny them this? To do so would be to repudiate utterly the pledges we made in the day of our sore trial, and would justly merit the scorn and contempt of mankind. We know, and the whole world knows, that when in the hour of our extremity we called upon the black race to aid us, we promised them not liberty only, but all that the word liberty implies. All remember how unwilling we were to do anything which would inure to the benefit of the negro. I recall with shame the fact that when five years ago the so-called Democracy - now Egyptians - were here in this capital, in the White House, in the Senate, and on this floor, plotting the destruction of the Government, and we were asked to appease them by sacrificing the negro, two-thirds of both Houses voted to rivet his chains upon him so long as the Republic should endure. A widening chasm yawned between the free and slave States, and we looked wildly around for that wherewith it might be closed. In our extremity we seized upon the negro, bound and helpless, and tried to cast him in. But an overruling Providence heard the cries of the oppressed and hurled his oppressors into that chasm by hundreds of thousands until the whole land was filled with mourning - yet still the chasm yawned. In our anguish and terror we felt that the whole nation would be speedily engulfed in one common ruin. It was then that the great emancipator and savior of his country, Abraham Lincoln, saw the danger and the remedy, and seizing four million bloody shackles he wrenched them from their victims, and standing with these broken manacles in his hands upraised toward heaven, he invoked the blessing of God to the oppressed, and cast them into the fiery chasm. That offering was accepted and the chasm closed. (pg. 1158-59)
Mr. [Senator] HENDRICKS. The workmen, the particular mechanic who assisted the contractor in his shop, has received his wages from month to month. As the wages went up he was paid. When the contract was made the laborer got eleven cents an hour. In two months from that time he got thirteen cents; and two months further on he got eighteen cents. He has been paid this; he could compel the contractor to pay it. The contractor himself is the mechanic, investing his labor, skill, his judgement, and his means in his shop; and he produces a vessel that is acceptable to the Department and that is valuable to the Government. I say he is not to be compared to the man who goes out into the market to buy up what may be needed for the Army for the purposes of speculation. (pg. 1992) [note: This pertained to government contracts for ships. The top wages were 18 cents per hour for a worker. This equates to yearly wages of around $360; nowhere near the $600 exemption rate for the income tax back then.]
Mr. [Rep.] NICHOLSON. A communication from Colonel De Gress, addressed to General Howard, and dated at Houston, Texas, December 15, 1865, says:
"I have the honor to respectfully report that in some portions of this State the negroes are not yet free; that the pass system is still in force, and when a freedman is found at large without a pass he is taken up and whipped."
Lieutenant Eldrige, writing to the same officer, from Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the 28th of November, 1865, says:
"I have the honor to inclose herewith, for your
consideration, the freedmen's bill, which has just become a law in
this State, and would respectfully ask your attention to the
following points therein:
"Section five authorizes mayors and boards of police, by their sole edict, to prevent any freedmen from doing any independent business, and to compel them to labor as employees, with no appeal from such decision." (pg. 2083)