2

Abuses of the War Power.

The grand and ultimate object of the war at the present time, on the part of the Federal administration, is to secure success to the republican party in the next presidential election. The war power is as necessary to the party in the non-insurrectionary states, as a means of securing votes for itself and preventing votes for others, as it is in the seceded states to crush rebellion. In a state of peace, under the constitution, the republican party would not stand the smallest chance of prevailing in a national election. Even when backed up by all the patronage and expenditures of the war, and by all the enthusiasm which its conduct in their hands had inspired, Massachusetts in the only state where an election has taken place, during the last year, in which the administration has not directly and openly interfered by corruption, fraud or force. If even, with all the advantages that they have from war, they can only succeed by having recourse to such measures, the members of the present administration are too skillful politicians not to know that peace would be fatal to their hopes of power.

It is never to be forgotten that the servants of the people now at Washington have hindered free elections. These facts and a thousand other kindred abuses now enter into the prosecution of the war. Much has been said about necessity. Pretty effectual measures have been adopted under the "war power," upon pretense of necessity. The "war power" itself has become a greater necessity to the administration, than any necessity which the war itself has produced to the country. The war is necessary to the existence of the administration. The greatest danger that it has to apprehend is from the constitution. It is the war only that can avert the return of the constitutional government. And in such a state of things, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet are by no means the only persons who might be hopeless of the benefits of amnesty.

Necessity is a strange power. Those who invoke it, and those who permit any right under its pretense to be violated, would do well to consider its nature. In the reign of terror in the French revolution, it would not allow executions to cease. The guillotine became a necessity. Those who pretended to control it were compelled to keep it in exercise, under the penalty of becoming themselves its victims. The same is the case of abuses practiced by men entrusted with the administration of government everywhere. Fresh abuses must constantly be committed, in order to save them from the former abuses. Men in power, who violate law, must hold on to power to protect themselves from punishment and disgrace.

Allegiance to the constitution is as much due from Mr. Lincoln as from the humblest citizen, and any violation of it as much more monstrous, as his position is more elevated. No allegiance whatever is due from anybody to Mr. Lincoln. When, as one of the people, the president obeys, supports the constitution, and acts within the sphere prescribed by the law, then, or for the time being, the first citizen of the country, the whole nation, as one man, in times of danger, should combine to make him the representative of its wisdom, and the guide of its power.

Every danger and embarrassment that now beset the country arise from the voluntary violation of the constitution by the Federal administration.

The common measure to persuade free nations to party with their liberties has been to subject the institutions that secured them to such abuses as the administration now at Washington has practiced. It is to protect them against their consequence, and for no other cause, that the war must be carried on.

In illustration of these views, we find the following striking passage in a late number of the London Examiner:

"We have never concurred in the opinion that the institutions of America have been found wanting on this trial. The fault has not been with them, but with the people, who, for vain glory, have given up their liberties. Had they lived under a monarchy, they would have done the same, and would have made their sovereign absolute as the czar whom they so much admire and extol. It is their vice to love greatness more than liberty, to be vain of extensive territory instead of persona rights; hence their light surrender of all their best securities for freedom.

Let us not be told they will resume their guarantees when the occasion has passed away. As well might it be said that a woman would resume her chastity after a surrender. A nation which has consented to live without its liberties has prepared itself too well for the loss of them. It has foregone the habit of virtue."