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Title:  President Lincoln's views. An important letter on the principles involved in the Vallandigham case. Correspondence in relation to the Democratic meeting, at Albany, N.Y.
Author: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Collection:  Making of America Books
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10 might be, at least, of some service to the insurgent cause. It needed no very keen perception to discover this part of the enemy's programme, so soon as, by open hostilities, their machinery was fairly-put in motion. Yet, thoroughly imbued with a reverence for the guaranteed rights of individuals, I was slow to adopt the strong measures which by degrees I have been forced to regard as being within the exceptions of the Constitution, and as indispensable to the public safety. Nothing. is better known to history than that courts of justice are utterly incompetent to such cases. Civil courts are organ'ized chiefly for trials of individuals, or, at most, a few individuals acting in concert; and this in quiet times, and on charges of crimes well defined in the law. Even in times of peace, bands of horse-thieves and robbers frequently grow too numerous and powerful for the ordinary courts of justice. But what comparison, in numbers, have such bands ever borne to the insurgent sympathizers even in many of the loyal States? Again:- a jury too frequently has at least one member more ready to hang the panel than to hang the traitor. And yet, again, he who dissuades one man from volunteering, or induces one soldier to desert, weakens the Union cause as much as he who kills a Union soldier in battle. Yet this dissuasion or inducement may be so conducted as to be no defined crime of which any civil court would take cognizance. Ours is a case of rebellion —so called by the resolutions before me-in fact, a clear, flagrant, and gigantic case of rebellion; and the provision of the Constitution that "the privilege 6f the writ of habeas corpus shall not, be suspended, unless when, in cases. of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it," is the provision which specially applies to,our present case. This provision plainly attests the understanding of those who made the Constitution, that ordinary courts of justice are inadequate to "cases of rebellion"-attests their purpose that, in such cases, men may be held in custody whom the courts, acting on ordinary rules, would discharge. Habeas corpus does not discharge men who are proved to be guilty'of defined crime; and its suspension is allowed by the Constitution