Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 349
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 349
 
 
necessary for the safety of the republic. Yet the matter did not go unquestioned. Senator Trumbull introduced a resolution asking information from the Secretary of State in regard to these arrests and in his remarks supporting it pointed out the injustice and needlessness of such procedure. “What are we coming to,” he asked, “if arrests may be made at the whim or caprice of a cabinet minister?” and when Senator Hale demanded, “Have not arrests been made in violation of the great principles of our Constitution?” no one could deny that this was the fact.  11
  Public sentiment, however, sustained the administration and it was only from a minority in the Senate and in the country that murmurs were heard. Nevertheless, the protests were emphatic and couched in irrefutable logic. They were directed against Seward, who was deemed responsible for the apprehension of men in Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and northern New York on suspicion that they were traitors, instead of leaving them to be dealt with by the public sentiment of their thoroughly loyal communities; and it was felt that his action savored rather of the capriciousness of an absolute monarch than of a desire to govern in a constitutional manner. The mischief of this policy was immediately evident in that it gave a handle to the Democratic opposition, probably increasing its strength, and in that it furnished our critics over the sea an additional opportunity for detraction. The remote consequences which were feared—that our people would lose some of their liberties, that we were beginning in very sooth to tread the well-worn path from democracy to despotism—have not been realized.  12
  It is true that the acts of a cabinet minister, unless disavowed by the President, become the President’s own acts; in so far must Lincoln be held responsible for these arbitrary
 

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