1863 January 21: Support, or Lack Thereof, for Lincoln’s Two Proclamations
The following articles are from The Prescott Journal on January 21, 1863. In the first, reprinted from The Hudson Times, the people of Hudson, Wisconsin, show their support for President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The second is an editorial on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to declare Lincoln’s proclamation suspending the write of habeas corpus to be unconstitutional.
THE MASS MEETING.—The mass meeting held in this city on Tuesday evening last to ratify the President’s Emancipation Proclamation, was very largely attended. The Court House was filled to overflowing. Hon. A. D. Richardson was called to the chair, and E. F. Clark elected Secretary.
Speeches were made by A. D. Richardson, M. A. Fulton, S. H. Clough, and Col. J. Hughes.
The following resolutions were adopted.
Resolved, That we are in favor of suppressing treason and punishing traitors by every means within the authority of the Government, and that we regard the Emancipation Proclamation issued by the President [Abraham Lincoln] as a necessary war measure, calculated to diminish the resources of the rebels, demoralize their armies, and prove a forerunner of the time when the shackles shall be unlocked from every slave, and when the Government will maintain the inalienable rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Resolved, That we approve the policy of arming the slaves, and using them to garrison the forts on the Southern coast, to guard the commerce of the Mississippi river, and for any and all purposes where they can be made available, to suppress the rebellion and save the lives of our own soldiers.
Resolved, That we are in favor of compensating all owners of slaves who have been loyal to the Union.
Resolved, That we see nothing in the present state of the war to discourage loyal men, but on the contrary believe that the Government has power to protect itself and punish its enemies and by a rigid enforcement of the emancipation policy, and a vigorous prosecution of the war, the ultimate extinction of the rebellion will be rendered certain, and the principles of Law, Order and Liberty perpetuated.
S. H. CLOUGH,
M. A. FULTON,
H. A. TAYLOR
— The supreme Court of this State while paying a high compliment to President Lincoln’s patriotism and integrity have yet declared the Proclamation suspending the writ of habeas corpus to be unconstitutional.
Granted, that the decision of the court is correct—a fact of which the opinions delivered has failed to convince us—we still see nothing alarming in the action of the President. We believe with Jefferson, that “On great occasions, every good officer must be ready to go beyond the letter of the law, when the public preservation requires it. His motives will be the justification of the act.”
The fault of the Democratic politicians is that they apply principles and laws adapted to a time of peace and tranquility, to a time of war and imminent public danger. Let us illustrate. Within a city corporation there is a valuable bridge, and teams are forbidden to cross it at a faster pace than a walk. The public interest requires this law, and it is enforced, every good citizen willingly obeys it. But a fire breaks out in one end of the city—the engines are in the other—quick almost as thought, the ever-ready horses are attached to the engines, and they sweep down the street and over the bridge in fiery haste. Who complains that the bridge was passed at such speed. No one. The public interest required it, and the illegal act justified itself.
Law is made to protect the interest of men. It times of exigency, when the public interest requires it, the temporary suspension, or neglect of law, if not lawful, it yet justified by that justice from which law derives all its binding force.