Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

or was apprehended; that the militia were averse from going from their homes, except the emergency absolutely required it; that the stations proposed for the militia on the seacoasts, by the officer of the United States, who made the requisition, were not the most proper, and that other places equally required to be protected; and that it would be most economical and efficient, to call out the militia when invasion took place, or should immediately threaten.

Before sending this letter, Governor Strong had issued a general order, calling upon the officers of the militia to have their men in a state of preparation to march at the shortest notice, and to any place invaded or alarmed. And soon after, when application was made by the people of the towns in Maine, near the British territory, for aid, as they feared an invasion for sake of plunder, Governor Strong ordered several companies of militia to those places, and gave the President of the United States notice, that he might appoint a military officer to command them.

The administration and its friends censured this conduct of Governor Strong; but the people of Massachusetts generally approved of it; among whom were many of those who had before supported the measures of the general government. It was believed to be improper to depend on the militia for a long military service, which could justly be required of such only as should engage in that employment; and it was the prevailing opinion, that the constitution authorized the calling out of the militia only in case of sudden emergency, when there was no previous warning, and no opportunity to provide other defence: The language of the constitution, in reference to the subject, expressly confining the authority to call for the militia, "to repel invasion." The war, besides, was unpopular, and the manner of prosecuting it neither able, judicious, or prudent.

Governor Strong had the approbation of the justices of the supreme judicial court, in the course he pursued. The constitution of Massachusetts provides that the governor may request the opinion of the judges in cases of difficulty. He referred the case to their decision; and their opinion was, that the governor of a state, who had the command of the militia thereof, had a right to judge whether there was an invasion, and therefore whether the militia should be ordered out, when called for; and that the militia should be commanded by the officers of their choice, as the constitution provided, except under command of a superior officer of the United States. It was an objection, at the time, with some, that the militia, when called into service, were intended to be commanded by an officer of

the United States, instead of the militia officers, chosen by their respective companies, regiments and brigades.

The decision and conduct of Governor Strong, respecting the militia, furnished matter for dispute between the two political parties, which had long divided the state and country. The friends of the national government condemned the conduct of the executive of Massachusetts, with great severity, as disorganizing, and as dangerous opposition to the authority of congress and the president; while the federal party contended, that the constitution was in his favor, and that the executive of the United States had assumed a power, in calling for the militia, when there was no invasion, not granted by the constitution, nor by the law of congress, which authorized him to make a requisition for them, in the occurrence of such an event. In the law of congress, the phrase of the constitution was carefully adopted, and it empowered the executive to call for the militia "to repel invasion." As there was no invasion when the call was made, and no immediate or imminent danger of invasion, Governor Strong contended, that he was not obliged to order them out. He argued, also, that if the president had a right to call the militia into service, when there was no invasion, and none immediately threatening, then he might call them out at all times, under the pretence that there might be an invasion, and keep them in service as long as he chose: and thus make a standing army of them, and direct and control them in the most arbitrary manner.

There was an extra meeting of the general court, in October, 1812, summoned by the governor, chiefly for the purpose of directing in what manner the electors of president and vice president of the United States should be chosen, as the two branches of the legislature did not agree on the mode, at the session in June. Governor Strong gave them information respecting the course he had pursued as to the militia: and he observed, on the occasion, "if this state had been in danger, I presume the regular troops would not have been ordered away:* and, if they were so ordered, that the militia were not liable to be called into service and stationed in the forts of the United States, to do garrison duty, when no danger of invasion appeared. I am fully disposed to comply with the requirements of the federal constitution, and the laws made in pursuance there

When the second or third call was made on the governor for the militia, in July, it was stated as an additional reason for the request, that the United States' troops, in the forts in Boston harbor, were ordered to the borders of Canada. If an invasion was expected on the seaboard of the state, it was strange the forts of the United States should be left without troops!

of; and I sincerely regret that a request should be made, by an officer of the general government, to which I could not conform. But it appeared to me that the requisition aforesaid was of that character: and I was under the same obligation to maintain the rights of the state, as to support the constitution of the United States."

"The officer of the United States army supposed, that he was authorized by the president, to require any part and even the whole of the militia, to be called out and marched to such places, in this and the other states, as he may think proper. If this be a correct construction of the constitution, then the president and congress will be able at any time, by declaring war, to call the whole militia of the United States into actual service, and to march them to such places as they may see fit, and to retain them in service as long as the war shall continue.

"Heretofore it has been understood, that the power of the president and congress, to call the militia into service, was to be exercised only in cases of sudden emergency, and not for the purpose of forming them into a standing army, or of carrying on offensive war. But according to the above construction, the right to employ the militia is made to depend, not on contingencies which the government might be unable to foresee or provide against, but on its own act; on the existence of a state of war, which the government has a right to declare, and to continue as long as it may think proper.

66

Although many important attributes of sovereignty are given by the constitution to the government of the United States, yet there are some still belonging to the state governments. One of the most essential of these is the control of the militia, except in the exigencies above-mentioned. This has not been delegated to the United States. It is therefore reserved to the states respectively. And whenever it shall be taken from them, and a consolidation of the military force of the states shall be effected, the security of the state governments will be lost, and they will wholly depend for their existence on the moderation and forbearance of the federal government. * * Whatever sentiments may prevail among the people of this state, as to the justice or expediency of the war, I trust they will perform the duties enjoined on them by the constitution and the laws; and that they will do nothing to obstruct the government in the constitutional measures it may adopt."

The opinion of the governor, respecting his right to judge whether the exigency had occurred, on which the militia were to be called out, by the general government, and as to his

duty, in the situation in which he was placed, was approved by the majority of the legislature, and of the citizens of Massachusetts. And individual statesmen of distinction afterwards gave their testimony in favor of its soundness. Mr. Lloyd, a senator in congress, from Massachusetts, said, "The admission of the doctrine to the full extent, that the executive of the general government is the only judge of the exigencies when the militia are to be called into the service of the United States, at the time and in the manner which he may think expedient; that the militia can, by the junction of a large number to a few regular troops, be officered by the United States, and that the executive of the several states, contrary to their own belief in the existence of such emergency, should be obliged to bow before this tribunal, erected in the breast of a single individual, and to yield implicit obedience to such an opinion, must place them at the mercy of any future tenant of power; strip the individual states of their physical, as well as of their fiscal force, and scarcely leave a remnant of that self-dependence, which some of them suppose they rightfully possess.

""

Mr. Otis, also a senator in congress, referring to this quesrion, observed, "If the president has a right, not only of deciding upon the existence of the constitutional contingency, which is to justify him in calling out the militia, but also of appointing his prefects to command them, he possesses the power at any moment, of converting the whole of the militia of the country, into pretorian cohorts. This is a tremendous power, and an awfully pregnant question, which it is not my purpose now to discuss. It is the question about the power of the sword, which settles all other questions. If it is clear the president has it, be it so. But is it so clear, that hesitation and inquiry on the subject become criminal? Was the retaining of the command of the militia by the governor, under the circumstances of the case, equivalent to an obstruction of the laws? a paralyzing of the means and agents of the government? Certainly, it will not be pretended.”

*The president divided the United States into military districts, when war was declared; and appointed a commander to each; who was to call for the militia when he pleased, station them where he pleased, and retain them as long as he pleased.

CHAPTER XXXV.

Governor Strong re-elected-Measures of defence against invasion-Arms provided by the State for the people in the seaports-Regular troops ordered out of the state-Opinions of Political Parties-Public Declarations of a distinguished Federalist-Senate of Massachusetts-Resolutions in New York-Senators commissioned as Officers in the ArmySpeech of Governor Strong-Disapproves of the War-Party Declarations and Opinions-Governor's Speech-Answer of Senate and HouseMilitia called out for defence, in 1814-Dispute with Military Officer of the United States-Castine taken by the British-Extra Session of the General Court-Governor's Speech-Answer of Representatives-Resolutions of General Court-Convention at Hartford-General orders of Governor Strong repeated, for the Militia to repel invasions-Who defended the State by his orders.

GOVERNOR STRONG was re-elected for the year 1813, though great efforts were made against him, by those who approved the measures of the general government. The majority of votes in his favor was greater than in 1812, and afforded the strongest evidence of the confidence of the people in his wisdorn and patriotism. It was a period of great excitement and alarm; the conduct of the general government gave much dissatisfaction to the citizens of Massachusetts, but they confided in the prudence and firmness of Governor Strong to protect them from military despotism, and political harm.

No attack was early made by the British on Massachusetts, and no fears were entertained of an immediate invasion. The general order of the governor, issued in July, 1812, (soon after the declaration of war was published, and the call on him for the militia,) by which he required the militia officers to have their repsective corps in readiness to defend the state, at any and every point, was renewed in 1813. The people, in some parts of the seaboard, who felt themselves particularly exposed, as there were some cruisers on the coasts, applied to the executive for arms and ammunition for defence, which were readily furnished them. The governor had before recommended to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »