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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 nullities. Nor can any man in this broad Union, bigb or low, in or out of office, great or small, exercise any kind of public authority without his warrant of law. Law, as bere 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 be. yond 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 sbould possess the land that flowed with milk and honey as an everlasting covenant; when broken by them it was no longer regarded
The minority of your Committee, in view of tbe 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 authority 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-Though 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 hereinbefore 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 hy force from the privilege of the elective franchise those 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 npon 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. What 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 punishment. It was thought at the time of the adoption of the Constitution that there was no danger, on the ground of the facility with wbich 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 tbe 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 anarcby ensues.
The minority of your Committee beg 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
of debts. It cannot provide a law of descents or distributions. It cannot provide for the punishment of crimes, except such as are committed against the Revenue or Postal Laws, and, perhaps, trespasses upon the public lands of the Federal Government. It cannot punish murder, arson, burglary, larceny or assaults, nor any of the crimes committed against the laws of the State of California ; nor can the Federal Government, or any officer thereof, grant a reprieve from, or commute or pardon any offence against the law of this State.
The Federal Government was made by the States, and was made for the States (that it was made for the States, is expressly declared in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which is the same thing), and they can destroy it. But by this it is by no means intended to imply that a State, or any given number of them can secede at pleasure; for it is perfectly clear that both the Constitution and the Union were intended to be everlasting, but upon the reasonable cov. enant and condition, nevertheless, that the Federal Government would role and govern in its particular sphere, and enact and enforce statutes only for which it could find authority in the written grant hereinafter referred to.
The minority of your Committee further report that if in the coming Presidential contest-less than one year to come—an attempt should be made to count the Electoral votes of the Southern States and the result of the election should depend upon the count of the vote of those States, a more disastrous struggle may ensue than ever did on the continent. The result may be two Presidents, both claiming to be President of all the people and the United States, with their partizans and political adberents in every neighborhood and section of this vast country, equally sanguine, zealous and conscientious—both claiming to be friends of the Constitution, Union and Government. Yea, more : your Congress and Legislatures may be divided, the partizans of each arrayed in deadly bostility one against the other, the President and leaders of each faction claiming to be the legally elected representatives of the Government, and both struggling for the control and management of the army and navy, the revenue and treasure of the people.
The liberties of the people of all the States, the perpetuation of our form of Government, the welfare and happiness of generations in the future, may depend upon the issue.
Of course the minority of your Committee cannot predict with any degree of certainty that such a calamity will follow; but profoundly impressed with a belief that no warrant of authority can be found, either express or implied, in the written grant for the enactment or enforcement by Congress of the so-called Reconstruction Acts, beg, with great respect to the opinions of others, earnestly to assure the Senate and the country of its convictions of threatened prospective danger in the attempt to count the Electoral rote mentioned in the resolution.
Further, report that no crime or offense committed by others, nor feeling of resentment toward them, should induce us to violate or neglect our reasonable public duty or be guilty of a great wrong to ourselves, and therefore recommend the passage of the resolution.