From The Constitution, Wednesday, February 8, 1865 (volume 28, number 1415)
Advices from Gen. Sherman’s army, say that his army is still advancing victorious into the heart of South Carolina, with every prospect of striking a damaging blow on the rebel forces rapidly concentrating in the vicinity of Charleston.
The crew of the rebel steamer Florida, which was captured in the harbor of Bahia, by the U. S. steamer Wachusett, have been liberated, by order of government. They numbered about thirty, and were taken from Fort Warren in a tug and placed on board the British steamer Canada, which sailed from this port last Wednesday for Halifax.
Rebel accounts from the state of Mississippi say there is great activity in the movements of national troops in that region. Transports loaded with them are said to be moving up and down the Mississippi river.
Burleigh, the Lake Erie raider, was delivered to the U. S. Provost Marshal at Suspension Bridge, New York, this morning at four o’clock.
The enemy state that all of Terry’s command has disappeared from the Cape Fear River. The inference is that this body of troops has gone to reinforce Sherman, which, together with the Nineteenth (in part) and Twenty-third Corps, Meagher’s command from Chattanooga and vicinity, and Foster’s force, must give him an army fully equal to that of the James. This being the case, he can, as the enemy are very fearful he will do, threaten several points named, and thereby capture one or all of them without a battle.
The navigation of the Mississippi, from St. Louis to the mouth, is perfectly unobstructed. The enemy appear to have abandoned in despair their pet ideas of obstructing the navigation of the Father of Waters. Hundreds of crafts plow its waters in peace and quietness, and are entirely unmolested. Since Hood’s disastrous defeat, the enemy appear to have lost all heart and enterprise.
The 31st day of January, 1865, will be remembered in the history of this nation. Eighty one years a social and political evil has been tolerated, sanctioned by law and the influence of men high in public esteem. On those who have spoke against it has been poured the enmity of powerful cliques, clothed with power. Like the people of old, they sought to found a nation whose corner stone should be of their own origin, and whose power should be felt. A lesson has been taught them. Their strength of yesterday is taken away. The victory of to-day cannot be claimed altogether by the actors of to-day. During the years of the past, men seeing the evils which the system would bring, fought it. The efforts of such patriots as Clay and Webster, postponed the day when the inevitable decision, the clash of arms, would be resorted to, and by compromise sought to inspire confidence and respect throughout all sections of the country. That these efforts were demanded it will be acknowledged. The barriers thus erected were broken by the leaders of the social evil, under various pretexts for its advancement. Thus was the way led to the season when the tree bore its ripe fruit—secession. Then too was the time when the patriots of ’61 first offered their blood in a cause whose success should shed immortal honor on their names. This bloody civil war has taught the people to put away the evil which has caused it. The feeling on this subject is evinced in the vote recorded on Tuesday in Congress in the House of Representatives.
The amendment passed is the following: “Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
It was initiated in the United States Senate and passed that body on the 8th of April, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. During the last session of Congress, it was brought before the House for action but failed by a vote of 95 yeas, to 64 nays. The progress of the war, and public opinion towards emancipation, have had its effect, and the same Congress which rejected the amendment, has now passed it by over two-thirds majority. Eleven Congressmen who first voted against it, have now voted for it; among whom is English of Connecticut. It now remains for the several Legislatures to act upon it. Of those loyal to the Union, there are twenty-eight, all but six of which are now in session. Four of them have already ratified the amendment, Maryland taking the lead. By the 4th of July next the United States of North America will be free from the blight of slavery.
Department for the Blacks.
Gen. Sherman has recently issued an order setting apart the Sea Islands of South Carolina and a tract on the main land for occupation by the negroes. This is an important step in the progress of civilization and advancement to the blacks. It will meet the views of the people, as it has the sanction of government. The land set apart is composed of the main land, and for years has produced large crops of choice rice and cotton, thus enriching the slave holding proprietors. The negroes in this section have been kept in abject servitude being of that class which it has been said could not exist without the care and protection of the white man. An opportunity will now be afforded to test the assertion. They will have a chance while owning and cultivating these rich lands, to prove to the world that they possess those qualities which command respect. This war has been a purifier. It has scattered to the winds the old antipathy against the advancement of the black man. The difference in color has been of no consequence when fighting qualities are considered. So may it be as to their manly qualities. Left to themselves at least for the present, we predict good results.
Arming the Negroes in the South.
From rebel reports they have stirring times in Congress on the question of arming the negroes. Many of the members have the foresight to see that by placing arms in their hands would be giving aid and succor to the enemy. The bill now under discussion provides “that all free male blacks between 18 and 45 shall be liable to labor in the construction and repair of defenses, bridges, roads, and do the menial work of the army generally. Where slaves are so employed, masters are to be compensated in case of their loss or death.” The general tone of its opponents was, that it is a design of the President to secure the services of the negroes in the army, and that when there to arm and make them fight their battles. One member argued that Davis “proposed new and dangerous schemes with unabated confidence in himself, that having so often miscalculated and deceived, it was time he had learned to mistrust himself; he must not look for unlimited support from either Congress of the country. When he proposed the mad schemes of arming the negroes he proved to the world that the abolitionists were not all in the North.” Another said it “would be far better if the government would leave the execution of some of its laws to the people at home; there was too much brass button and bayonet rule in the country—they were thick as locusts in Egypt. He believed in keeping the negro on the plantation; that when a different policy was adopted, the death knell of their hopes would be sounded.” Another argued “that the negro was totally unfit by nature for a soldier, and that he could not be expected to fight on their side when high inducements were offered by the enemy.” It was a hair which broke the camel’s back; it is the negro which will revolutionize the South.
Counterfeit Fifty Cents of the Treasury currency are in circulation in this vicinity. At one bank in this city four of them were presented on Monday. They can be easily detected, being new and inferior in every way.
What is Needed.—A want which has long been felt in this community is that of houses, which will rent at prices within the reach of tradesmen and mechanics. The increase of manufacturing in this place has drawn a large class of industrious people, who among their many good qualities, like a neat, respectable house to live in. Two hundred such houses are wanted. It is intimated that one or two capitalists intend erecting houses for rent the coming season. We suggest it to others, as a paying investment even in these times of high prices.
Sleighing on the River.—The sleighing on the river has been excellent. On Wednesday last a party of twenty couple[s] went to East Haddam, had a supper and a dance at the Champion House, and returned to the city, on the morning of Thursday.
The following letter shows what the “Ladies Aid Societies,” are doing:
Washington, D. C., Jan. 30th, 1865.
Miss Dyson desires to offer “The Ladies Aid Society,” of Middletown, Conn., heartfelt thanks for a box sent by them, and received Jan. 28th in perfect order. Its contents are devoted to the use of sick, suffering patriots in three wards of Harrwood Hospital. The well selected bounties were hailed by the “boys” with a ready smile, and an eager bite—while such words as, “That’s the first I’ve tasted since I left home,” “Oh, that’s so good,” “That’s bully, ma’am,”—will tell how, with full mouth, and fuller hearts, the kindness of the donors was appreciated. The “Sanitary,” and the “Christian Commissions,” are doing a noble work in our army—a missionary work indeed, evoked by our country’s need as she passes through her baptism of blood in the defense of truth and right.
Written in behalf of 130 Sick Soldiers.
Gubernatorial Candidates.—A correspondent writes to us, suggesting that in the event that Gov. Buckingham should decline a re-nomination, there could be no better name presented to the Convention than that of Hon. Benjamin Douglass, of Middletown. We have already said that there was no reason to suppose that Gov. Buckingham would decline a re-nomination, against the almost unanimously expressed wish that he should again be a candidate of the Union party. The names of many gentlemen of ability and merit have already been suggested as proper candidates for the office of Governor, among which the name of Mr. Douglass fills a prominent place, and while we agree with our correspondent in his high opinion of the true worth of that gentleman, we should very much regret the contingency that opened to the Convention the question of selecting a new candidate. Our correspondent writes:–New Haven Journal.
“Among all the honored names mentioned in connection with the office of Governor, there is none suggestive of more public spirit, of higher and more unselfish devotion to the public good, and to the honor and prosperity of the whole country, or of better capacity and more general business ability, than that of Benjamin Douglass, of Middletown. Mr. Douglass is extensively engaged in manufactures, and closely identified with all the best interests of the state. He has been Lieutenant-Governor on the same ticket with Gov. Buckingham, and would fill the office of Governor with honor to himself and to the great advantage of the State. It there is to be a change, no better choice can be made than that of Mr. Douglass for the position of Governor of Connecticut.”
Edward Frost and George A. Lawrence, of Springfield, have just been allowed a patent on an apparatus for lighting gas by electricity, by means of which the street lamps of a whole city may be lighted instantaneously by a single operation at headquarters. It requires the use of only two wires, running from the battery to the lamps, to each of which a simple arrangement is attached by which the gas is turned on and lighted at the same time, or shut off at the option of the operator.
VOTE ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
The account below is by a Washington correspondent, of Tuesday, Jan. 21st.
The proposed amendment to the constitution immediately abolishing and forever prohibiting slavery comes up for final decision. An anxious throng of witnesses pours into the galleries; there is an air of confidence rising almost to exultation on the Union side, while a sullen gloom settles over the pro-slavery benches.
Archibald McAllister, dem., of the XVIIIth Pennsylvania District, reads a beautiful paper, in which he justifies his change of vote, and cast his ballot against the corner-stone of the rebellion. Alexander H. Coffroth, dem., of Pennsylvania, XVI District, follows in an unanswerable and manly argument, to show the power to amend and the policy to amend. Applause on the Republican side greeted these new accessions to freedom.
12:45.—William H. Miller of Pennsylvania, XIVth district, (who was beaten at the last election by Geo. H. Miller, Union,) espouses pro-slavery democracy, and insists on keeping his party foot on the n*****s.
The galleries are getting crowded, the floor of the House filling up.
Anson Herrick, dem., IXth district, New York, next gives frank and statesmanlike reasons why he has changed his views, and shall change his vote.
In the midst of the speaking, and that buzzing which always characterizes a critical vote upon a great question, it is whispered that three rebel peace commissioners, Stevens, Hunter and Campbell, are on their way here—that they were at City Point last night. A few believe, but most people say, “gold gamblers’ news.”
1:30 P. M.—The crowd increases. Senators, heads of bureaus, prominent civilians and distinguished strangers, fill the outside of the circle.
The interest becomes intense. The disruption of the Democratic party now going on is watched with satisfaction and joy upon the Republican side of the House; anxiety and gloom cover the obstinate body guard of slavery, whose contracting lines break with the breaking up of their party.
James S. Brown, Democrat, of Wisconsin, spitefully indicates his intention to vote against freedom. Aaron Harding of Kentucky, a “Border State Unionist,” bless the mark! makes a melancholy effort to poke fun at young Democratic converts, and rams the struggling n***** back under the protection of the sacred Constitution.
Martin Kalbfleish, Democrat, of Brooklyn reads a long pro-slavery composition which excites little attention and no interest.
3 P. M.—The hour for voting has arrived, and the fact is announced by the Speaker. Mr. Kalbfleish is only at the 22d page of his composition, and begs to be endured through six pages more. This request is granted, with much reluctance.
The galleries are wonderfully crowded, and women are invading the reporters’ seats. The Supreme Court and the Senate appear to have been transferred bodily to the floor of the House.
3:20 P. M.—A motion to lay the motion to reconsider on the table assumes the character of a test vote. The most earnest attention is given to the calling of the roll. Division lists appear on all sides, and members, reporters, and spectators devote themselves to keeping tally.
Of course the attempt to table the amendment will fail; but there are not votes enough to pass the bill. Absentees drop in; one “aye,” one “no.” The roll is called over by the Reading Clerk but the count has already been declared in whispers through the House—57 ayes, 111 noes. It is not tabled.
3:30 P. M.—Question is taken now on the motion to reconsider the vote of last session by which the proposed amendment was lost for want of two-thirds. The House vote to reconsider, Ayes 112, Nays 57.
Now commences efforts to stave off the final vote. Robert Mallory, dem., of Ky., with a menace as to what course he should decide to pursue, appeals to Mr. Ashley to let the vote go over till to-morrow.—Other democrats clamor for this delay.
Mr. Ashley refuses and stands firm, this being the accepted time and the day of salvation.
The final vote begins. Down the roll we go to James E. English, dem., of Conn., who votes “aye.” A burst of applause greets this unexpected result and the interest becomes thrilling. The Speaker’s hammer falls heavily and restores silence.
Clerk—“Wells A. Hutchiuns.” “Aye.” A stir of astonishment in the reporters’ gallery.
“William Bradford.” “Aye.” Wonder and pleasure are manifested.
“Dwight Townsend.” “No.” “Ah, if Harry Stebbens had been well enough to stay, that vote had not been given,” said a Senator.
Clerk—“Schuyler Colfax.” “Aye.”
The voting is done. Swift pencils run up the division lists. “One hundred and nineteen to fifty-six.” Hurrah! Seven more than two thirds!
The Clerk whispers the result to the Speaker. The Speaker announces to the House what the audience quickly interpreted to be THE MIGHTY FACT THAT THE XXXVIIITH AMERICAN CONGRESS HAD ABOLISHED AMERICAN SLAVERY.
The tumult of joy that broke out was vast, thundering and uncontrollable. Representatives and Auditors on the floor, soldiers and spectators in the gallery, Senators and Supreme Court Judges, women and pages, gave way to the excitement of the most august and important event in American Legislature and American History since the Declaration of Independence.