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longer, this, together with other supposed difficulties, prevented their immediate action, or, rather, they thought they had gained a point; for, while in the Confederation, they could have none other than a moral right to prevent its continuance, in the Union they would have a legislative right to interfere, in addition to the moral. But, in combining and reconciling the jarring interest, either real or supposed, conciliation and forbearance was thought necessary to be practised, where the “springs of opposition were so numerous and strong,” and the difference of the “temper and disposition ” was so great. He then says, -
“The citizens of the United States, however different in other respects, are well known to agree in one strongly marked feature of their character, — a warm and keen sense of freedom and independence. This sense has been heightened by the glorious results of the late struggle against all the efforts of one of the most powerful nations of Europe. It was apprehended, I believe, by some, that a people so high spirited, would ill brook the restraints of an efficient government. I confess this consideration did not influence my conduct.” He then observed, “He did, and thought his constituents would uphold him in giving his vote for what, upon the best consideration he could give, he thought was the right, not what might be most agreeable.”
We quote the following passage, not because of its direct bearing on the subject under discussion — though it may have in some remote degree — but because it shows, in some measure, the opinions entertained at that time of all governments, and because the question has been for the second time started in this country, that there should be no human government."
“Permit me to add, in this place, that the science of even government itself seems yet to be almost in a state of infancy. Governments in general have been the result of force, of fraud, and of accident. After a period of six thousand years has elapsed since the creation, the United States exhibit to the world the first instance, so far as we can learn, of a nation unattacked by external force, unconvulsed by domestic insurrections, assembling voluntarily, deliberating fully, and deciding calmly, concerning that system of government under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live.” ”
But, if slavery was to be guaranteed to the South, and the ignorance of the unenlightened African was to be taken advantage of, and he made, in consequence of it, to be the “hewer of wood and drawer of water ’’ for an indefinite number of ages, how shall the men of that day escape the charge of founding a government, at least for the colored man, on force, on fraud, and on accident Those better acquainted with metaphysics than we are must answer, if they can reconcile justice with the present system of slavery. After speaking of the various kinds of govern
* We here allude to the discussion on this subject now going on, and to the Rev. Mr. Eliot, the Indian missionary of the State of Massachusetts, who put forth a pamphlet denying the authority of human governments, but by persuasion was induced to suppress it.
* Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 227.
ments that had existed, and the kind best suited to the United States, he said, –
“The principles and disposition of their citizens indicate that, in this government, liberty shall reign triumphant. Such, indeed, have been the general opinions entertained since the era of independence. If those opinions and wishes have been as well founded as they have been general, the late convention have been justified in proposing to their constituents one confederate republic as the best system for a national government for the United States.” "
And again he says, –
“We have remarked, civil government is necessary to the perfection of society. We now remark that civil liberty is necessary to the perfection of civil government. Civil liberty is natural liberty itself, divested of only that part which, placed in the government, produces more good and happiness to the community than if it had remained in the individual. Hence it follows that civil liberty, while it resigns a part of natural liberty, retains the free and generous exercise of all the human faculties, so far as is compatible with the public welfare.”
What civil liberty has the slave, or even the colored man, in this country None whatever. But some may answer, the public welfare requires the slave to be kept in bondage, and the colored man to be spurned from all good society; that it is even dangerous to grant him his inalienable rights; that, to preserve the liberty for which we have suffered so much, slavery must yet be continued, the colored man must yet be under tutelage ; that he has yet to learn what is meant by true freedom; that, in his present state of ignorance, he is incapable of sustaining the principles of free government; and, consequently, that his, as well as the white man's, happiness is enhanced by having him continued, as it is said, in “his place,”—continued as a servant, or as a slave; and that, being incapable of attaining to a just sense of true liberty, it is necessary to keep him under the restraints which the peculiar institution of slavery affords. These are grave assertions, and perhaps should be answered with gravity; and, in doing so, we must simply refer the reader to the time when this same race was the centre and seat of civilization, long before we have any records of a white race at all; and the ruins of ancient cities, that are now found in Ethiopia, attest to their ability; and nothing but an opportunity to display their talents is probably now wanting to show their equality with any other people: in fact, if the researches of antiquarians are correct, and it is true the island of Great Britain was settled by a colony from Tyre, we can trace our own descent directly to the Ethiopian. But Mr. Wilson continues:
| Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 231. * Idem, vol. iii. p. 232.
“In considering and developing the nature and end of the system before us, it is necessary to mention another kind of liberty, which has not yet, as far as I know, received a name. I shall distinguish it by the appellation of federal liberty. When a single government is instituted, the individuals of which it is composed surrender to it a part of their natural independence, which they before enjoyed as men. When a confederate republic is instituted, the communities of which it is composed surrender to it a part of their political independence, which they before enjoyed as States. The principles which directed in the former case — what part of the natural liberty ought to be given up, and what part ought to be retained — will give similar directions in the latter case. The States should resign to the national
government that part, and that part only, of their political liberty which, placed in that government, will produce more good to the whole than if it had remained in the several States: while they resign this part of their political liberty, they retain the free and generous exercise of all their other faculties as States, so far as is compatible with the welfare of the general and superintending confederacy.” "
Speaking of the inadequacy of the Confederation to secure the objects proposed in the foregoing statements, and observing while no foreign power had been able to overpower them, yet, for the want of a government sufficiently strong to restrain the States, they were “devoid " “ of national power,” “ of national importance,” “ of national credit,” “ of national dignity,” “of national energy,” so that they could not carry into execution their own resolutions, decisions, or laws, – he then goes on to say,
“Under these impressions, and with these views, was the late convention appointed; and under these impressions, and with these views, the late convention met. “We now see the great end which they propose to accomplish. It was to frame, for the consideration of
* Elliot's Reports, vol. iii. p. 232.