|The President, at the request of the Governor of South Carolina, who is unable to keep order in the State, has summoned the illegal combinations—know as the Ku-Klux—to disperse within twenty days; and he has also sent a message to Congress asking for such legislation as may effectually secure life, liberty, and property in all parts of the United States. We gather from the context that this request is designed not to supersede the local authorities, but to provide for those cases of which the United States has constitutional cognizance, such as offenses against mail-carriers and revenue collectors. The report of the committee which has appointed to consider the recommendations of the message will, of course, open debate upon the whole subject. We beg the Republicans in the House of Representatives to remember that this debate will make an issue of the most vital importance for the Presidential campaign. Any error would be disastrous; and as opinion in the party upon the subject is not unanimous, there must be the greatest care that the policy recommended can be justified at every point before the people.|
If the Constitution empowers the United States to keep the internal peace of a State without the requisition of the State authorities, let it be done at all hazards. But let the constitutional provision which authorizes it be made plain. To the questions whether the United States may not rightfully defend the lives of its citizens the reply is conclusive: "Yes, in the way its fundamental law provides." But if the reader of these lines in the State of Iowa is injured in his person or property when not officially acting for the United States, does he appeal to the State or to the national courts? Is he willing that the United States should decide just when the local authorities are unable to protect him? Indeed, does not the Constitution expressly forbid the national government to decide that question by providing that the State authorities shall call for assistance if they wish it? If those authorities are themselves lawless, and refuse to ask assistance of the nation, the United States have still the right and the power of protecting their own agents and functions, and defending them at all costs.
Meanwhile, also, the Government of the United States has the indisputable constitutional right of enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment. It has made large numbers of persons in the Southern States voters, and it is bound to protect their political rights to the last. But in doing this with the amplest force, let Congress consider the essential disadvantage of continuing any kind of proscription, and by a general amnesty remove forever the feeling of injustice which is the fruitful source of so much evil. By a declaration of amnesty, and by a vigorous and ample provision for the defense of rights which nobody questions the duty of the Government to defend, Congress will do what the best and most earnest Republicans desire—Republicans who can not but feel that there must yet be great disorder in parts of the Southern States, disorder which only time and moral influences can restrain, and who believe that the policy which we suggest would be conclusive evidence that the party does not repose upon its victories, but carries its old spirit of constitutional liberty into the new issues of the hour.