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struck out. We allude to the word “freeman; ” being in, it would have confined the benefits to be conferred by the Constitution to the then freemen of the United States and their descendants; but, being stricken out, it left the benefits to be conferred upon all the people without distinction, whatever may have been their color or their race; and, consequently, if the South, including even Virginia and North Carolina, did mean to retain the slaves they had in their possession, the other portions of the country did not mean they should. We have seen what Massachusetts said, and these resolutions, without the word “freeman,” being more explicit even than her own, she, with the other States, took these amendments, after striking out the word “freeman,” and engrafted them on the Constitution, together with the substance of her own. Whatever, then, may have been the Constitution, or whatever may have been the ideas respecting slavery and its continuance, held by the delegates who proposed it, they amount to but little, when we find the people would not sanction it without its being so amended that every individual, “whether living on the banks of the Mississippi" or “on the margin of the Kennebec,” whether he be white or black, bond or free, should not be subjected to punishment for any crime, or supposed one, without a trial by jury; or “be seized in his person, papers, or effects,” without a legal sanction; or that it should be considered he consented, in the least degree, his inalienable rights should be given up: these were retained; they did not mean to relinquish them. If we are correct — and we think we are — a person who is guilty of violating the Constitution in these particulars makes himself liable, before our courts, for violations of the principles of the Constitution. A colored man, or a slave, cannot be restrained in servitude without his own consent, and the pretended authority of the master is utterly null and void : this instrument takes from him all authority. There were, however, in this convention, as our quotations show, many who feared the Constitution would have a bad effect on the general liberties of the country, and, on that account, gave their vote against it, — men who either threw out of all consideration the colored man, and meant to have the most enlarged liberty for themselves, or else were willing he should be considered of their number, and therefore voted against it because their rights or his were not sufficiently guarded. The feeling in this convention was undoubtedly strong, both for and against slavery; quite a number, however, spoke as if the feeling against it was strong throughout the State, while those in its favor said. little, as is now their wont.
ExTRACTS FROM THE OBSERVATIONS MADE IN THE CONVENTION OF PENNSYLVANIA.
It would appear, from Mr. Elliot's Reports, that, with the single exception of a few observations made by Mr. McKean, no one is reported to have said any thing, saving Mr. James Wilson, of Philadelphia, a gentleman who had attended the national convention, and who, it appears, undertook to explain the reasons which induced that body to adopt the Constitution, as recommended ; and, after answering the various questions and objections which, by his answers, are supposed must have been made, this convention adopted the Constitution without any amendments being proposed for after consideration.
Mr. Wilson began by saying, —
“As I am the only member of that body who has the honor to be also a member of this, it may be expected of me that I should prepare the way for the deliberations of this assembly, by unfolding the difficulties which the late convention were obliged to encounter, by pointing out the end which they propose to accomplish, and by tracing the general principles which they have adopted for the accomplishment of that end.
“To form a good system of government for a single city or State, however limited as to territory, or inconsiderable as to numbers, has been thought to require the strongest efforts of human genius. With what conscious diffidence, then, must the members of the convention have revolved within their minds the immense undertaking which was before them Their views could not be confined to a small or single community, but were expanded to a great number of States, several of which contain an extent of territory, and resources of population, equal to those of some of the most respectable kingdoms on the other side of the Atlantic. Nor were even these to be the only objects to be comprehended within their deliberations. Numerous States yet unformed, myriads of the human race who will inhabit regions yet uncultivated, were to be effected by the result of their proceedings. It was necessary, therefore, to form their calculations on a scale commensurate to a large portion of the globe. “For my own part, I have been lost in astonishment at the vastness of the prospect before us. To open the navigation of a single river was lately thought in Europe an enterprise adequate to imperial glory. But could the commercial scenes of the Scheldt be compared with those that, under a good government, will be exhibited on the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and the numerous other rivers that water and are intended to enrich the dominions of the United States ?”"
Taking this enlarged view of the subject, and preparing the minds of his audience to learn that the foundations of the government, with all due consideration, were to be laid, not only for the generation then on the stage of action, but “mil
! Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 224.
lions yet unborn; ” that they were laying the foundation of a government that was to have a bearing on many future generations, and that amid all the jarring interests that had exhibited themselves in the convention, yet, among them all, there was a “keen sense of freedom and independence,” and this sense heightened by the “glorious ” result of the “late struggle they had passed through; ”— it would, it must, have produced an unequivocal condemnation in every honest mind in the assembly if he had, in the course of his remarks, given any intimation that, by adoption of that instrument, slavery, which is, and always was, in direct opposition to a “keen sense of liberty,’” should be by that instrument guaranteed to the South, perpetually fastened on the country, and that the people of his State would be liable, ever after, to be called on to fight in opposition to these principles, and that the “main object” for which they were called together was to devise ways and means by which slavery could be maintained and perpetuated on this continent. We opine, if such a statement had been made at that day, before any one of the northern conventions, Pennsylvania and the other northern States would have indignantly refused its adoption ; they certainly could have done nothing less. But, as slavery existed, and there was an interest manifested to have it continued a little while
* Mr. Duncan, of Ohio, in his speech made in the house of repre
sentatives in 1840, and which was printed and widely circulated by
the party to which he is attached, made an observation to this effect.