The Senate resumed the consideration of the resolution advising retaliation for the cruel treatment of the Union prisoners.
Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, (Dem.,) took the floor in opposition to the resolution. He said we had no evidence of an official character of present cruel treatment, and according to the principals of international law retaliation could not be forced for past cruelties. We had no evidence of the intention of the rebels to continue these cruelties, and he was opposed to giving the President power to torture our adversaries. He favored the motion of Mr. Davis to recommit the whole subject to the Military Committee. He believed it would not be inexpedient to appoint Commissioners to consult with the rebel authorities on the subject of the treatment of our prisoners. He would be willing to vote for any resolution looking to a legitimate degree of prospective retaliation.
Mr. Howe, of Wisconsin, (Union,) advocated the resolution as necessary and just, and not retrospective, but prospective in its operations.
Mr. Wade, of Ohio, (Union,) said that as there had been some doubt expressed in the debate as to whether these barbarities were continued up to the present time, he had taken the deposition of a prisoner recently escaped from Salisbury, N.C.
The lengthy deposition of an escaped soldier was read by the Clerk, showing that inhuman treatment to our soldiers was continued up the present time.
Mr. Morrill of Maine, (Union,) moved to amend by striking out the provision to retaliate in kind, and inserting, in lieu of it, the words "in conformity with the laws of nations."
Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, (Union,) inquired if the President was authorized to retaliate without special legislation giving him the authority to do so.
Mr. Howard replied, that he had no doubt that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the army, had that authority.
Mr. Doolittle did not believe the President had such power. Congress had bestowed it specially on two occasions, in former wars, and he thought that, without the special authority of Congress, the President could not retaliate.
Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, (Dem.,) believed that if the account was balanced, there would not be much difference between the conduct of the two sections, as to the treatment of prisoners. There were cruel men North and South, who treated prisoners inhumanly. He was opposed to retaliation.