Sunday, July 10, 2011

150 Years Ago: Expulsion

On Wednesday, July 10, 1861, Daniel Clark (R-NH) introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to expel ten Southern senators -- William Sebastian and Charles Mitchel of Arkansas, Thomas Clingman and Thomas Bragg of North Carolina, James Chesnut of South Carolina, A. O. P. Nicholson of Tennessee, John Hemphill and Louis Wigfall of Texas, and James Mason and Robert Hunter of Virginia.
Whereas a conspiracy has been formed against the peace, union, and liberties of the people and Government of the United States; and in furtherance of such conspiracy a portion of the people of the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas, have attempted to withdraw those States from the Union, and are now in arms against the Government; and whereas [the senators from those states] have failed to appear in their seats in the Senate and to aid the Government in this important crisis; and it is apparent to the Senate that said Senators are engaged in said conspiracy for the destruction of the Union and Government, or, with full knowledge of such conspiracy, have failed to advise the Government of its progress or aid in its suppression: Therefore,

Resolved, That the said Mason, Hunter, Clingman, Bragg, Chesnut, Nicholson, Sebastian, Mitchel, Hemphill, and Wigfall be, and they hereby are, each and all of them, expelled from the Senate of the United States.
After a short, but intense debate the resolution passed the following day by a vote of 32 to 10.

Of the ten expelled senators, William Sebastian was the only one who did not participate in Confederate politics or military service.  He practiced law in Helena, Arkansas, until the town was occupied by Union troops.  He then moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and died there on May 20, 1865.  In 1877, the Senate revoked the expulsion order against him and paid full compensation to his children.

Also on this date, the Federal government reached an understanding with newspaper correspondents not to convey by telegraph any news of troop movements.  From the diary of William Howard Russell...
The Government have been coerced, as they say, by the safety of the Republic, to destroy the liberty of the press, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, and this is not the first instance in which the Constitution of the United States will be made nominis umbra. The telegraph, according to General Scott’s order, confirmed by the Minister of War, Simon Cameron, is to convey no despatches respecting military movements not permitted by the General; and today the newspaper correspondents have agreed to yield obedience to the order, reserving to themselves a certain freedom of detail in writing their despatches, and relying on the Government to publish the official accounts of all battles very speedily. They will break this agreement if they can, and the Government will not observe their part of the bargain. The freedom of the press, as I take it, does not include the right to publish news hostile to the cause of the country in which it is published; neither can it involve any obligation, on the part of Government to publish despatches which may be injurious to the party they represent. There is a wide distinction between the publication of news which is known to the enemy as soon as to the friends of the transmitters, and the utmost freedom of expression concerning the acts of the Government or the conduct of past events; but it will be difficult to establish any rule to limit or extend the boundaries to which discussion can go without mischief, and in effect the only solution of the difficulty in a free country seems to be to grant the press free licence, in consideration of the enormous aid it affords in warning the people of their danger, in animating them with the news of their successes, and in sustaining the Government in their efforts to conduct the war.

Also, Albert Pike concluded a treaty between the Confederate government and the Creek Indians.  Pike would arrange nine treaties with the various tribes in the Indian Territory. 

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