Foreign and Colonial IntelligenceThe Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1348, p. 598.
December 23, 1865
The first session of the thirty-ninth Congress opened on the 4th inst. We gave in a great part of our Impression last week an outline of President Johnson's Message to Congress. The President says that the reconstruction of the Union must be effected by the North's allowing past disorders to sink into oblivion, and by the South's adopting the Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery for ever. Persons charged with treason should be fairly tried by a civil court, and it should be judicially settled that no State can secede from the Union. It is proposed to reduce the army to a peace establishment of 50,000 men, so organised that their numbers may, in case of need, be raised to 82,000 men. The army estimates have been reduced from 516,000,000 dollars to 33,000,000 dollars. The currency should be reduced, and a plan should be devised to pay off the national debt within thirty years. The President's aim will be to promote peace and amity with foreign nations; and he believes them to be actuated by the same disposition. A sincere desire for peace induced the President to propose that the questions between the United States and England respecting the outfit and depredations of Confederate cruisers should be submitted to arbitration; but England rejected that offer, and proposed a commission to settle claims, excluding those arising from those depredations. That proposal had been declined as very unsatisfactory. The claims had not been brought forward by the United States with the primary object of obtaining compensation, but with the purpose of establishing important principles of international law. The President does not advise any present attempt at redress by legislation; and the future amity of the two countries must rest on the basis of mutual justice. The United States Government has abstained from interfering with forms of Government in Europe, and will regard it as a great calamity "should any European Power challenge the American people as it were to defend Republicanism against foreign interference." The correspondence with France will at the proper time be laid before Congress.
The Secretary of the Treasury's report recommends contraction of the currency, and provision for the reduction of the debt. There will be a deficiency of 112,000,000 dols. for the financial year ending in June next; and that sum must be provided by loans; but in the financial year ending in June, 1867, there will be an estimated surplus of 11,000,000 dols.
None of the Southern members had been admitted to take their seats in Congress; and a joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives was expected to be appointed to report whether any of the rebellious States were entitled to representation in either house.
The Georgia and Alabama Legislatures had adopted the Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and the Louisiana Legislature had declared slavery for ever abolished.
Mr. Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana, has been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Fenian President at New York has got to loggerheads with his sham senate.