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ileged class at the South : hence there has always been a division. But we trust our people are beginning to open their eyes to the nature of slavery, and, perceiving it has a tendency to reduce all the
working classes to the same state, they will put forth their power, and check its pretensions, before it is so fastened on the country that they will be unable to break its chains; and, as far as in us lies, we would now warn them, if they do not lay aside the foolish prejudices they have against the colored race, and come forward, with united resolutions, to put an end to so iniquitous a system while it is now in their power, they must not complain if they themselves, or their children, should be brought under the same system of oppression. They must help free their brother man from the yoke, or else have it placed upon their own necks. We think this is evident, and that there is no alternative." But to return to our extracts from the Secret Proceedings of the Convention that formed the Constitution of the United States, including some taken from a speech delivered by the Hon. Luther Martin before the legislature of the State of Maryland, who was called upon, after his return from the convention held in
Philadelphia, 1787, by the legislature of that State, to give “an account of those transactions in which " he “had had a share.” In this speech, Mr. Martin observes, –
To bear us out in the supposition that some change of the kind has been anticipated, we can now appeal to the Inaugural Address of President Harrison.
“The delegates of Delaware were expressly instructed to agree to no system which should take away from the States an equality of suffrage, secured by the original articles of confederation.” “The object of Virginia and other large States to increase their power and influence over others did not escape observation.” A number of propositions, in the form of resolutions, were proposed to the convention for their consideration, as a basis on which to form a new government, and were submitted to a committee, who, among others, reported the following: “7th. The right of suffrage in the first branch of the legislature ought not to be according to the rules of representation, namely, in proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens, and inhabitants of every age, sex, and condition, including those bound to service for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, except Indians, not paying taxes in each State.” “16th. That a republican constitution, and its evisting laws, ought to be guaranteed to each State by the United States.” ” In discussing these among other propositions, it was argued the small States would not agree to representations founded on numbers; if they did they would be overwhelmed ; “that slavery was the worst that could ensue, and we considered the system proposed the most complete, most abject system of slavery that the wit of man ever devised, under the pretension of framing a government for free States; that we never would submit to present certain evils in dread of a future, which might
* Secret Proceedings, p. 13. * Secret Proceedings, pp. 14 and 16.
be imaginary; that we were sensible the eyes of the country and of the world were upon us,” &c.;" that, while they were willing to “form a strong and emergetic federal government,” they were opposed to consolidation, and they wished “the world at large " should “judge " who “best understood the rights of freemen and free States.” They did not mean to give up the independency of the States, and give the large States a weight in the Union in proportion to the number of their inhabitants. The argument was, that each individual in the community, when he enters into society, independent of wealth, talent, or strength, had equal rights; and if, because of any of these distinctions, one should have “more votes than another, it would be inconsistent with the freedom of that other, and would reduce him to slavery;”” and consequently it would be the same with the States. - On that part of the Constitution which allowed the importation of slaves till the year 1808 there was much diversity of opinion, and the representatives from South Carolina and Georgia asserted that their States would never agree to a system that put it in the “power of the general government to prevent the importation of slaves, and that they, as delegates from those States, must withhold their assent from such a system.” " They had made this assertion beeause eight of the States had decided they would not consent to have a general provision, as reported by the committee of detail, putting it out of the power of congress from ever prohibiting the importation of slaves, “without confining it to any particular period.” Mr. Martin says they were willing to agree to this clause as it now stands, but the “same reasons which caused them to strike out the word “mational,” and not admit the word “stamps,’ influenced them here to guard against the word “slaves.” They anxiously sought to avoid the admission of expressions which might be “odious ' to the ears of Americans, although they were willing to admit into their system, those things which the expressions signified.” ". When, therefore, the convention had determined not to accept the report of the committee, three States only voting in favor of it, and the delegates from Georgia and South Carolina saying their States would not agree to a system that gave it in the power of the general government to put a stop to it, “A committee of one member from each State was chosen by ballot to take this part of the system under consideration, and to endeavor to agree upon some report, which would reconcile these States: ” to this committee was also referred the following proposition, which had been reported by a committee of detail, to wit: “No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two thirds of the members present in each house,” – a propositien which the “staple and commercial States '' were solicitous to retain, lest their commerce should be placed too much under the power of the Eastern States, but which the latter were as anxious to reject. “This committee,” of which Mr. Martin was one, “met and took under consideration the subjects committed to them.” He says he “found the eastern members, notwithstanding their aversion to slavery, were very willing to indulge the Southern States at least with a temporary liberty to prosecute the slave-trade, provided the Southern States would, in their turn, gratify them by laying no restriction on navigation acts; and, after a very little time, the committee, by a great majority, agreed on a report, by which the general government was to be prohibited from preventing the importation of slaves for a limited time; and the restrictive clause relative to navigation acts was to be “omitted.” " Here are some of the considerations of that compact of which we have heard so much ; and, however disgraceful it might have been, let it be borne in mind, the contract, so far as they are concerned, is fulfilled, the consideration has been paid, the pound of flesh was granted, and has been taken. But let us observe here, we consider this crying out compact as one of their ruse, of which the South has proved herself sufficient master, in order to frighten the North into her proposals, — not because she cares about the par
* Secret Proceedings, p. 30. * Secret Proceedings, p. 24. * Secret Proceedings, p. 63.