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national policy, and the condition of national affairs, should not be overlooked.

Since the Legislature of Michigan last assembled in these Halls, great events have crowded the page of history. In the midst of our rejoicing at the surrender of Lee, the General-inChief of the rebel armies, the heart of the nation was suddenly filled with horror and grief, by the assassination of that truly great and good man, President Lincoln, just as the daylight of safety to the country began to break throngh the dark and stormy clouds that had enshrouded his whole previous administration. The surrender of all the remaining Confederate forces, followed in rapid succession, with the capture and imprisonment of the master-spirit, and arch-rebel, Jefferson Davis, and the collapse of the slaveholders' great rebellion, before the majesty of free principles, and the might of our liberty-loving veteran volunteers. Then came the embittered controversy, relative to the conditions upon which the seceded States should be re-admitted to a participation in the Government.

On the 20 of February, 1865, I had the pleasure of officially announcing to the Legislature, then in session, the adoption by Congress of the constitutional amendment, forever abolishing and prohibiting slavery in the United States of America. The Legislature promptly, on the same day, ratified the amendment -ours being the second State in the Union to do so—Illinois having ratified on the 1st of February. On the 18th of December, 1865, Secretary Seward officially proclaimed that this amendment had been ratified by the requisite number of States, and that it had “become valid, to all intents and purposes, as & part of the Constitution of the United States." Upon this important event I take occasion to congratulate you, that our country has at last been freed from that incubus upon her unity and prosperity which had so long been a reproach to us among the nations, as a fostered institution utterly at variance with the principles of the Declaration of Independence upon which our Government assumed to be founded. It is a matter for pride and gladness, that the scoffer at free institutions can never

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more point the finger of scorn to the model Republic of the world, as an example of the antagonism of theory and practice, where an oppressed and enslaved race were permitted to be held in the cruelest bondage-where the whip, the coffle, and the human auction-block, were daily witnesses against us, as we sung annual peans, on our country's natal day, to the spirit of Liberty and Equality. We may well be joyous that that anomaly is now removed, and will never more call the blush of shame to the cheek of the true American citizen.

In accomplishing this noble result, Michigan performed her full share by the voice of her people and the votes of her representatives. But the work is not finished. Although slavery can no longer have a legal existence anywhere upon the broad domain of the United States, the colored men of the South have not yet been secured in a position of permanent freedom from the tyranny and oppression of their former owners. Placed without preparation in a new relation to society and the Government by their emancipation, they have been termed, with some propriety, the "Wards of the Nation." All accessible evidence manifests that the discomfited traitors who inaugurated the rebellion in behalf of the perpetuation of human slavery, cannot accept its abolition with any degree of contentment, but by legislation would reduce the freedmen, as a class, to a condition of serfdom, constraint and helplessness, but little, if at all, better than the slavery from which they have been liberated. As the guardian of their rights, it has become the duty of the General Government to protect their wards against this system of class oppression, and to assist them in the transition from their former condition of absolute dependence to one of selfsustaining usefulness; and as a temporary aid to this object, the Freedman's Bureau has been established. If anything could add to the obligations of the government in this regard, it will be found in the fact of the undeviating loyalty of the freedmen throughout the whole war, and when the National Flag had few if any other friends in the rebel States.

Closely interwoven with, and inseparable from this subject,

is that of the general question of the reconstruction of the late Confederate States, and their restoration to their former position in the Union. The difference between Congress and the President, as to the terms on which they should be admitted to representation in Congress, are familiar to you. In no spirit of revenge, but solely as safe-guards against renewed attempts to dismember the Government-to prevent the rebel States from gaining an actual accession of political strength in the councils of the nation, as a consequence of their rebellion-to establish an equality of representation, and a favorable recognition of the loyal element of society in the South, Congress, after a laborious, protracted and impartial investigation, adopted a series of further amendments to the Constitution, to be submitted to the States for ratification, in the manner provided by that instrument, and which I will very soon lay before you in a Special Message, for your action.

In the late Congressional and State elections, these amendments became the great issue before the people, as against the policy of the President and his supporters. The magnificent and unprecedented majorities by which the policy of Congress was sustained in the loyal States, showed how deeply the people were interested, and how stern was their determination to forbid that traitors should have not only immunity but actual reward for their treason; and to this the electors were impelled, not by vindictiveness towards rebels, but in justice to loyal men. The amendments being eminently just and proper in themselves, and under all the circumstances, magnanimous to the rebel States, as a means of restoration, I presume that you will, on the part of the State of Michigan, unhesitatingly ratify them.

Opportunity has already been offered to most, if not all of the late Confederate States to ratify these amendments, but they have been rejected by all. This persistence in the spirit which originally prompted the Rebellion, is much to be regretted, but will scarcely avail to procure for them easier terms of admission. With or without their assent to these amendments, Congress

will doubtless provide that the rights of the loyal men in the South, whether white or black, shall be respected; and by appropriate legislation, protect the future of our country from the perils of the past. As a means to this end, impartial suffrage, without regard to color, seems to be demanded by the spirit of the age, the rights of humanity, and the security of the Republic.

In view of the situation, if you should see fit to s'rengthen the influence of our Representatives in Congress, by the expres- . sion of the sentiments which I have no doubt you entertain, it will afford me more than satisfaction to second and approve them.

Let us hope that these trials through which the country has passed, and is passing, may, through the Providence of God, serve to plant deeper and spread wider the love and veneration of the people for those cherished institutions of Liberty which have moved triumphantly through two such terrible ordeals, the first for their establishment, and the second for their preservation.

GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE, AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Being now committed to the performance of our respective duties, let us carefully remember that the ultimate character of all our official acts will depend upon the actual results they shall produce. The Legislature of Michigan, I feel assured, will nerer fall into the errors, which we have occasionally seen charged upon some legislative bodies: 1st. In losing sight of the merits of questions as they affect the public good, through the influences created by private and personal interests; and 2d. In the sanction by members—often through merely following the lead of others—f importannt measures, without giving them a proper personal investigation, under the mistaken idea, that the direct responsibility of the individual Representative to his constituents and the State, can be merged in that of the collective body of legislators. Your wisdom will have already suggested that by acting always upon a thorough knowledge of the facts and circumstances involved in any inquiry, we avoid all danger of crude and hasty legislation.

In view of the probable revision of our State Constitution at an early day, I would respectfully suggest the propriety of not engaging in any extended general legislation at the present session. In fact, all laws, in order to operate beneficially and be well understood, should be, as far as may be, permanent. Frequent changes, or changes for trivial causes, should be avoided, if we would enjoy the benefits of a settled system of urisprudence. Wise counsel would prompt the confinement of legislative action, as much as possible, to the enacting of such laws as are necessary to establish and maintain justice, to advance the position and develop the resources of the State, by fostering the industry, promoting the interests and securing the happiness of her people, and to make her municipal regulations firm and stable.

FELLOW CITIZENS-Permit me, in conclusion, to commend to your wisdom and patriotism, under the Constitution, the State of Michigan and all her interests, proffering to you, at the same time, my cordial and active coöperation in every measure tending to promote the welfare and happiness of her people. HENRY H. CRAPO.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE, Lansing, January 2, 1867. (

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