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provided for the creation of a national force by enrolling and drafting the militia of the whole country,-each State being required to contribute its quota in the ratio of its population, and the whole force, when raised, to be under the control of the President. Some measure of the kind seemed to have been rendered absolutely necessary by the revival of party spirit throughout the loyal States, and by the active and effective efforts made by the Democratic party, emboldened by the results of the fall elections of 1862, to discourage and prevent volunteering. So successful had they been in this work, that the Government seemed likely to fail in its efforts to raise men for another campaign; and it was to avert this threatening evil that the bill in question was brought forward for the action of Congress. It encountered a violent resistance froin the opposition party, and especially from those members whose sympathies with the secessionists were the most distinctly marked. But after the rejection of numerous amendments, more or less affecting its character and force, it was passed in the Senate, and taken up on the 23d of February in the House, where it encountered a similar ordeal. It contained various provisions for exempting from service persons upon whom others were most directly and entirely dependent for support,--such as the only son of a widow, the only son of aged and infirm parents who relied upon him for a maintenance, etc. It allowed drafted persons to procure substitutes; and, to cover the cases in which the prices of substitutes might become exorbitant, it also provided that upon payment of $300 the Government itself would procure a substitute, and release the person drafted from service. The bill was passed in the House with some amendments, by a vote of 115 to 49,—and the amendments being concurred in by the Senate, the bill became
The finances of the country enlisted a good deal of attention during this session. It was necessary to provide in some
way for the
and also for a currency; and two bills were accordingly introduced at an early stage of the session relating to these two subjects. The Financial bill, as finally passed by both houses, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to borrow and issue bonds for $900,000,000, at not more than six per cent. interest, and payable at a time not less than ten nor more than forty years. It also authorized the Secretary to issue Treasury notes to the amount of $400,000,000, bearing interest, and also notes not bearing interest to the amount of $150,000,000. While this bill was pending, a joint resolution was passed by both houses, anthorizing the issue of Treasury notes to the amount of $100,000,000 to meet the immediate wants of the soldiers and sailors in the service.
The President announced that he had signed this resolution in the following
MESSAGE. To the Senate and House of Representatives :
I have signed the joint resolution to provide for the immediate pay. ment of the army and navy of the United States, passed by the House of Representatives on the 14th, and by the Senate on the 15th inst. The joint resolution is a simple authority, amounting, however, under the existing circumstances, to a direction to the Secretary of the Treasury to make an additional issue of $100,000,000 in United States notes, if so much money is needed, for the payment of the army and navy. My approval is given in order that every possible facility may be afforded for the prompt discharge of all arrears of pay due to our soldiers and our sailors.
While giving this approval, however, I think it my duty to express my sincere regret that it has been found necessary to authorize so large an additional issue of United States notes, when this circulation, and that of the suspended banks together, have become already so redundant as to increase prices beyond real values, thereby augmenting the cost of living, to the injury of labor, and the cost of supplies—to the injnry of the whole country. It seems very plain that continued issues of United States notes, without any check to the issues of suspended banks, and without adequate provision for the raising of money by
loans, and for funding the issues, so as to keep them within due limits, must soon produce disastrous consequences; and this matter appears to me so important that I feel bound to avail myself of this occasion to ask the special attention of Congress to it.
That Congress has power to regulate the currency of the country can hardly admit of doubt, and that a judicious measure to prevent the deterioration of this currency, by a reasonable taxation of bank circulation, or otherwise, is needed, seems equally clear. Independently of this general consideration, it would be unjust to the people at large to exempt banks enjoying the special privilege of circulation, from their just proportion of the public burdens.
In order to raise money by way of loans most easily and cheaply, it is clearly necessary to give every possible support to the public credit. To that end, a uniform currency, in which taxes, subscriptions, loans, and all other ordinary public dues may be paid, is almost not quite indispensable. Such a currency can be furnished by banking associations authorized under a general act of Congress, as suggested in my message at the beginning of the present session. The securing of this circulation by the pledge of the United States bonds, as herein suggested, would still further facilitate loáns, by increasing the present and causing a future demand for such bonds.
In view of the actual financial embarrassments of the Government, and of the greater embarrassment sure to come if the necessary means of relief be not afforded, I feel that I should not perform my duty by a simple announcement of my approval of the joint resolution, which proposes relief only by increasing the circulation, without expressing my earnest desire that measures, such in substance as that I have just referred to, may receive the early sanction of Congress. By such measures, in my opinion, will payment be most certainly secured, not only to the army and navy, but to all honest creditors of the Government, and satisfactory provision made for future demands on the Treasury.
The second bill—that to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof, was passed in the Senate,-ayes 23, noes 21, and in the House, ayes 78, noes 64,--under the twofold conviction that so long as the war continued the country must have a large supply of paper-money, and that it was also
highly desirable that this money should be national in its character, and rest on the faith of the Government as its security.
Another act of importance, passed by Congress at this session, was the adınission of Western Virginia into the Union. The Constitution of the United States declares that no new State shall be formed within the jurisdiction of any State without the consent of the Legislature of the State concerned, as well as of the Congress. The main question on which the admission of the new State turned, therefore, was whether that State had been formed with the consent of the Legislature of Virginia. The facts of the case were these : In the winter of 1860–61, the Legislature of Virginia, convened in extra session, had called a convention, to be held on the 14th of February, 1861, at Richmond, to decide on the question of secession. A vote was also to be taken, when the delegates to this convention should be elected, to decide whether an ordinance of secession, if passed by the convention, should be referred back to the people; and this was decided in the affirmative by a majority of nearly 60,000. The convention met, and an ordinance of secession was passed, and referred to the people at an election to be held on the fourth Tuesday of May. Without waiting for this vote, the authorities of the State levied war against the United States, joined the Rebel Confederacy, and invited the Confederate armies to occupy portions of their territory. A convention of nearly five hundred delegates, chosen in Western Virginia under a popular call, met early in May, declared the ordinance of secession null and void, and called another convention of delegates from all the counties of Virginia, to be held at Wheeling, on the 11th of June, in case the secession ordinance should be ratified by the popular vote. It was so ratified and the convention met. It proceeded on the assumption that the officers of the old government of the State had vacated their offices by joining the rebellion : and it accordingly proceeded to fill them, and to reorganize the gov
ernment of the whole State. On the 20th of Angust the convention passed an ordinance to “provide for the formation of a new State out of a portion of the territory of this State.” Under that ordinance, delegates were elected to a convention which met at Wheeling, November 26, and proceeded to draft a Constitution for the State of Western Virginia, as the new State was named, which was subunitted to the people of Western Virginia in April, 1862, and by them ratified, --18,862 voting in favor of it, and 514 against it. The Legislature of Virginia, the members of which were elected by authority of the Wheeling convention of June 11th, met in extra session, called by the Governor appointed by that convention, on the 6th of May, 1862, and passed an act giving its consent to the formation of the new State, and making application to Congress for its admission into the Union. The question to be decided by Congress, therefore, was whether the legislature which met at Wheeling on the 11th of June was "the Legislature of Virginia,” and thus competent to give its consent to the formation of a new State within the State of Virginia. The bill for admitting it, notwithstanding the opposition of several leading and influential Republicans, was passed in the House, ayes 96, noes 55. It passed in the Senate without debate, and was approved by the President on the 31st of December, 1862.
A bill was brought forward in the Senate for discussion on the 29th of January, proposing a grant of money to aid in the abolition of slavery in the State of Missouri. It gave rise to a good deal of debate, some Senators doubting whether Congress had any constitutional right to make such an appropriation, and a marked difference of opinion, moreover, growing up as to the propriety of gradual or immediate emancipation in that State. Mr. Sumner, Mr. Wilson, and several others, insisted that the aid proposed should be granted only on condition that emancipation should be immediate ; while the Senators from Missouri thought that the State would be much more