Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Politicians Supervising Military Affairs - A Thrust at Slavery

Roscoe Conkling, courtesy of wikipeida
The January 11, 1862 Covington Journal included this article. Please note it used the phrase "commander-in-chief" instead of "general-in-chief."

Politicians Supervising Military Affairs-- Another Thrust at Slavery

A debate of more than ordinary interest sprung up in the Lower House of Congress last Monday. As much of it as the telegraph has furnished is given in another column.

Conkling's resolution is aimed at Gen. McClellan, and makes an issue that the new commander-in-chief cannot well evade. Apart from the particular case in view, the passage of the resolution must be regarded as important, as it establishes a precedent for the supervision of military movements by the politicians at Washington.

As usual the slavery question was lugged into the debate. Mallory, of Kentucky, rushed to the aid of the Abolitionists. He declared that "if slavery stood in the way of the Constitution he would wipe it out," and was applauded. In all the wild declarations of Abolitionists we do not remember one which has assumed that slavery stood in the way of the Constitution. Precisely the reverse is the fact. Abolitionists denounce the Constitution because it recognizes and protects slavery. The Constitution stands in the way of Abolitionism. Mr. Wickliffe hit the nail on the head when he declared that in a contest between Abolitionism and slavery - if one or the other must give way - he would throw Abolitionism overboard.

This article refers to a resolution by Roscoe Conklin (pictured above) asking for an investigation into the battle of Ball's Bluff. This request sparked a debate about the role of the civil government in military affairs, and, as this article points out, ended up with a debate about slavery and its impact on the army and war.

It also mentions two Kentucky Congressmen:  Robert Mallory, and Charles A Wickliffe. (Wickliffe was also a former Kentucky governor who returned to state service after serving as Postmaster General in the 1840s.)

Robert Mallory, courtesy wikipedia

Charles A Wickliffe, courtesy

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