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Committee on Federal Relations
ELECTORAL VOTES OF STATES ORGANIZED UNDER THE
RECONSTRUCTION ACTS OF CONGRESS.
R E P O R T.
Mr. PRESIDENT : The Committee on Federal Relations, to whom was referred Senate Resolution No. 15, baving considered the same, and failing to agree upon a recommendation, the undersigned, a minority of your Committee, respectfully report:
That a correct solution of our duty in the premises involves a consideration and proper understanding of the whole form and system of our Federal Government.
That our Government was, before the adoption of the present Constitution, confederate, is conceded by all; but since that event it has been variously designated as National, Federal and compound Federal.
While the minority of your Committee deem it unnecessary to offer their reasons therefor, it is respectfully submitted that it is compound Federal in form, and exercises a limited governmental control in a designated sphere, under and by virtue of an express written grant of autbority from the States, and was made for the States in contradistinction to the people; was generated and matured into its fair proportions in the assent of the people to this grant, expressed through Conventions and Legislatures of the several States at different times and in different places, in their capacities as States, and can be perpetuated only by a continuance of the assent of the people of the several States, expressed or continued in the same mode as tbat originally adopted and practiced.
That the States made and can destroy our Federal Government, and this without revolution, is demonstrably true.
The States can, by local enactment, peacefully destroy the very machinery by which a Member of Congress or even a President could be elected! "Destroy the assent of the people to the grant of authority referred to, and our form of Government is ipso facto destroyed. Americans will not voluntarily pay tribute to support that which ihey do not believe ought to be supported. Our system of government is founded upon the theory that every voter retains that liberty of choice with which he was endowed by bis Creator-to choose the good and reject the evil. It is this liberty which we claim is inalienable, and tbis principle applies as well to our State as to our Federal forms of government. In the former we fix by organic law a limitation of authority, and declare all political power inherent in the people. To the latter we,
by organic law, simply grant certain defined written authority. If the former, by enactment of statutes or otherwise, transcends the organic limits, its Acts are simply void and bind no one; and so, if the latter cannot show its warrant in the written grant of autbority before referred to, its Acts are simply void and bind no one; and every individual within the jurisdiction of either Government may treat such Acts as pullities. Nor can any man in this broad Union, bigh or low, in or out of office, great or small, exercise any kind of public authority without his warrant of law. Law, as here used, means more than an Act of Congress, or an Act of the Legislature of any State within the Union. If of Federal concern, it means an Act in due form, for the passage of which an authority can be pointed out in the written grant. If of State concern, it must be within the limitation of authority contained in and not forbidden by the organic Act.
If a State Government, by the use of the power with which it is clotbed, enforce against the people the provisions of an Act clearly beyond the limit of its authority, or forbidden in the organic Act, the people would at once be forever absolved from all allegiance to that Government, because our State government is in its nature a covenant between the people and the governing power, and a covenant broken by one party to it is no longer binding on the other. Our Federal system is in the nature of a covenant between all the States and the governing power; and should that Government, by the use of the power with wbich it is clothed, enforce an Act against a State and the assent thereof, for which Act it can find no warrant of authority, or wbich does not exist by necessary implication in the written grant by the States to it, then such State is forever absolved from its allegiance to that Government.
The principle is a familiar one of great moral and universal right. Solomon in his proverbs, declared that a covenant broken by one party is no longer binding on the other. The Creator of man covenanted and promised the priesthood to the sons of Levi as an everlasting covenant, and when the covenant was broken by them, he no longer regarded it as binding on Him. The same great Being covenanted that the children of Israel should possess the land that flowed with milk and honey as an everlasting covenant; when broken by them it was no longer regarded by Him.
The minority of your Committee, in view of the system and form of our Federal Government as simply suggested in the foregoing pages of this report, bave sought, by a fair and proper application of the sacred principles involved, to present to the Senate a few short and concise reasons in favor of the adoption of the resolution.
First-There can be no warrant found in the written grant of author. ity to legislate upon the question of suffrage, nor can the minority of your Committee find that it exists by necessary implication.
Second–There can be no warrant of authority found in the written grant for the appointment of Presidential Electors by other than Stato authority, por for making a list of the persons voted for or the number of votes for cach, nor for signing or certifying, sealing or transmitting the same to the seat of the Federal Government.
Third—There can be no warrant of authority found in the written grant for the President of the Senate to open a certificato sent to him from others tban Electors appointed in the manner directed by the Legislature of each State, nor for counting such votes in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Fourth—Thougb it is conceded that a State may exist out of the Union, no warrant of authority can be found in the written grant for limiting the Electoral vote of a State unless it is in the Union, nor can any be found for compelling a State to come into the Union against the wishes of its citizens.
Fifth–If it be contended that the Federal Government may deprive the citizens of any of the States of the privilege of citizens as a punishment for political or other offences, then it is submitted that no warrant of authority can be found in the grant for the punishment of any citizen of any State in or out of the Union except in the mode and manner prescribed in the written law, as herein before defined ; and to concede that such an authority exists would inevitably destroy the assent of the people of the several States, which, as herein before insisted, is necessary to the perpetuation of our Federal form of Government ; for while it may be conceded that, for the time being, the dominant party can thus punish political offenders and exclude by force from the privilege of the elective franchise tbose whom it insists would vote wrong, and by the same means permit those only whom it insists would vote right, it must be remembered that in turn the dominant may in a short time be the minority party; and the example baving been set and the precedent established, the Northern Democracy ay exclude by the same means from the privileges of the elective franchise all those who for several years past characterized them as Copperheads, rebels, traitors and allies of the enemies of free government. And this may all be done upon the same plea that it is now contended the citizens of the Southern States, or a class thereof, are excluded, viz: They would vote wrong and are enemies of the Federal Government, or have been guilty of some offence. Wbat Northern Democrats would now deny that the present dominant partizans in Congress are enemies of our Federal Government? It is respectfully submitted that they would all agree to this proposition, and many of them insist that their adherents are alike guilty and deserving of popishment. It was thought at the time of the adoption of the Constitution that there was no danger, on the ground of the facility with which the people could bold Conventions and recall their delegated authority or powers and change their servants; but we, Mr. President, are living witnesses of the mistake they made. If our Federal Government can control the question of suffrage in the States, or count the Electoral vote thereof under an Act of Congress excluding from the privileges of the elective franchise a class of the electors of such State, without warrant of authority in the written grant, then the political opponents of those in authority, in turn, when successful in the struggle for place, will punish political offenders with great rigor and severity, and finally the liberties of all the people are lost to them forever, or one continued strife and anarchy ensues.
The minority of your Committee bey leave further to report that they do not deem the Federal Government a Government proper, in the ordinary and general meaning of that term, because.
First-It can furnish no remedy for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the redress or prevention of a wrong, between the citizens of a State in the most ordinary cases. It cannot protect the life or person of a citizen of California. It cannot furnish a remedy by wbich we may recover the possession of our property if unjustly taken by another. It cannot provide a mode or furnish a remedy to compel the payment