« AnteriorContinuar »
H. or R. as an entering wedge to prepare the way for an majority for which I hope, it would be carried by attack by Congress on the property of masters in the united voice of every member. their slaves, in the several States. The charge Mr. Chairman, said Mr. T., I too sensibly feel is unfounded. We know too well the Constitu- the value of your time, to proceed in this, CUStional powers of this House, and the Constitu- sion. I have touched, but with the utmost brevtional rights of the States, to entertain an idea of ity, the most prominent objections which have such flagrant usurpation. Nay, sir, said Mr. T., we been urged against the amendment: less I could do not propose, even in this territory, over which not say in justice to myself-much more I ought we have full and undisputed sovereignty, to take to say in justice to the subject. The general confrom the master his property in a slave-so far siderations which I had the honor to suggest, from it, that if it be fact that the labor of slaves when in committee on the Missouri bill, are is there in demand, by prohibiting their further equally applicable on the present occasion. I introduction into the territory, that demand will will not repeat them--they are fresh in your rebe increased, and the value of such property now collection. May the future inhabitants of Arkthere, will be greatly enhanced. The same gen- ansas approve the decision we now sball maketleman, said Mr. T., has expressed an opinion I ask po more. Let their interests be our guide, that if our ancestors had maintained the dos- and the further introduction of slavery will not trine embraced in the amendment, the Federal contaminate their borders. Constitution would never bave been formed, and Mr. WALKER, of North Carolina, spoke as folhe has thought proper to warn us that, if it be lows: Mr. Chairman, in taking a view of this persisted in, the confederation will be dissolved. subject, let it not be forgotten, that we are legisHas it then come to this? Is the preservation of lating in a free country, and for a free people; the our Union made to depend on the admission of importance of the principle now contested, deslavery into a territory not belonging to the Statesmands our utmost attention and vigilance to the when the Constitution was adopted ? A terri- great principles of the Constitution, and particutory purchased by Congress, and for which Con- larly to that friendly compromise entered into by gress are bound to legislate, with a faithful regard the worthy framers of that instrument. It was to the public welfare. Are we to be terrified from then conceded that the slaveholding States were doing our duty, by threats of disunion and dis- to hold an equal portion of policy, and to be enmemberment? If the day ever arrive when the titled to the same advantages as other States in Representatives of one section of the country the Union. But it appears by the prohibition and shall legislate in this hall under the influence of restriction attempted to be made as a condition of threats from another, it will be high time for a admitting new Siates into the Union, a direct viodissolution of the Union. No, şir, said Mr. T., lation of that sacred compact is attempted. The that honorable gentleman greatly mistakes the amendment proposed by the gentleman from New people of this country, if he supposes this Union, York, (Mr. Taylor) which prohibits slaves from cemented by so strong interests, necessary to all, being taken into the territory of the Arkansas, comand especially to the slaveholding States-con- pletely deprives the citizens of the Southera secsecrated by so much glorious achievement-sanc- iion of the Union from any advantages arising in tified by the blood of so many heroes-mendeared the Government, or from having either part or by victories won with the exertions and treasures lot, or any inheritance, on the west side of the of all-that this Union, the preservation of which Mississippi. Sir, was it not purchased by the is the first lesson of lisping infancy, and the last whole United States ? Did not the Southern prayer of expiring age--that this Union can ever States contribute their full share for that purbe destroyed or in the least impaired by pro- chase? And are they not morally and politically moting the cause of humanity and freedom in entitled to equal advantages of the soil? It is to America.
be presumed that a great portion of the population But, sir, said Mr. T., the honorable gentle of that territory will be emigrants from the Southman has mentioned a fact which shows how ern States; they will be disposed to remove to Virginia herself felt and acted on the subject of that climate suited to their constitution and habslavery, in the Convention of 1787. It was, he in- its, or the culture of rice and cotton. Shall they forms us, a Representative from Virginia who be proscribed, and prohibited from taking their drew the ordinance excluding slavery from the slaves? Sir, if so, your land will be an upcultiNorthwest Territory. This, said Mr. T., was a vated waste-a fruitless soil ; it is further south noble act-worthy io immortalize the name of than the 35th degree of latitude, a low and warm Grayson. But alas! His zeal for the rights of country, that will not support a laboriog white man, his love for future generations, his active population. philanthropy and manly eloquence no longer ani. But, sir, I contend that we have no legitimate mate this assembly. Would to God his mantle power to legislate on the property of the citizens, had fallen on some one of his successors. Then only to levy taxes. We mighc, with the same that suecessor, and not the humble individual right, probíbit other species of property from who now addresses you, would have introduced crossing the Mississippi. Have not the Southern this amendment to the consideration of the Com- States yielded to the Eastern States so much of mittee. He would have supported it by eloquence their favorite system of free white population, as so powerful, by argument so unanswerable, by to give up and relinquish the new States of pathos so irresistible, that instead of the meagre, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all the vast territory
H. OF R.
north of the river Ohio? and shall the slavehold- gentleman who has just resumed bis seat, (Mr. ing States be withheld from a small share of the Cushman) as one of liberty and slavery, an idea prospective advantages arising in the settlement he utterly disclaimed; and, with a view of preof this new territory? Gentlemen seem to think venting any misconception of the course be felt that they are serving the cause of humanity effec- it his duty to take, he would detain the Committively, in prohibiting slaves to cross the Missis-tee a short time while he explained the reasons sippi.' In this they are mistaken; they are withby which he was influenced. Mr. McL. said, he holding from them the means of all the comfort would yield to no gentleman in the House, in his and happiness their condition affords; that is, love of freedom, or in his abhorrence of slavery in food and raiment. It is well known that in the its mildest form. His earliest education, and the frontier country the servant feeds as his master, habits of his life, were opposed to the holding of and is sufficiently clothed; while in the interior slaves, and the encouragement of slavery. At the of the old States the means of subsistence is scan- same time, he would yield to no gentleman in the ty and improvident.
House in his regard for the Constitution of his But, sir, the great and radical objection to the country, and for the peace, safety, and preservaamendment proposed, is taking away from the tion of the Union of these Stales. To these people of this territory the pataral and Constitu- great objects all minor considerations should give tional right of legislating for themselves, and im- way. He would unite with gentlemen in any posing on them a condition which they may not course within the pale of the Constitution, for the willingly accept. In organizing a territorial gov. gradual abolition of slavery in the United States. ernment, and forming a constitution, they and Beyond this, the oath he had taken as a member they alone, have the right, and are the proper of the House, forbade him to go. The fixing of a judges of that policy best adapted to their genius line on the west of the Mississippi, north of which and interest, and it ought to be exclusively left to slavery should not be tolerated, had always been them. If they wish to exclude slaves from be with him a favorite policy, and he hoped the day ing taken into their territory, they can prohibit was not distant when upon principles of fair comthem by their own act. If they think proper to promise it might constitutionally be effected. He admit ihe emigration of slaves, they can say so. was apprehensive, however, that the present preLet them be their own judges, and not force upon mature attempt, and the feelings it had elicited, them a yoke they may not be willing to bear. would interpose new and almost insuperable obo The people of the Arkansas and of the West are stacles to the attainment of the end. competent judges of their Coostitutional rights, Mr. McL. said, that gentlemen had lost sight of and well know how to appreciate their privileges the real questions under consideration. They had as freemen; and be assured, the further from your treated the subject as if we were now deliberating metropolis, the greater the enthusiasm for liberty. upon the expediency of increasing the slavery in Slavery is an evil we have long deplored but the United States from abroad; or, as if we were cannot cure; it was entailed upon us by our an. to decide whether there should or should not be cestors ; it was not our original sin, and we can- slavery among us. Sir, if ibis were the question, not, in our ent situation, release ourselves there is no gentleman on this floor from the North from the embarrassment; and, as it is an evil, the or South who would hesitate in his opinion. He more diffusive, the lighter it will be felt, and the believed there was no quarter of the country in wider it is extended the more equal the proportion which slavery is more seriously deplored than in of inconvenience. We know, we felt yesterday the South. But, it was an evil which existedon the Missouri bill, you have ihe power; you are it had been unfortunately entailed upon us, and it the majority ; but do not bear us down on this required the united and dispassionate wisdom of question. I trust that gentlemen will exercise on the nation to mitigate its horrors and soften its this vote a spirit of conciliation, and give the calamities. The farther increase of slavery from Southern States an inberitance among their breth- abroad had been prohibited by very severe laws, ren, by suffering such of us as are disposed to be and we were at this session about to pass others, come citizens of the Arkansas to take our slave enforcing their provisions, and repairing their de property with us. Then your lands will be sold; fects. The present question regarded merely the your soil will be cultivated; and your country disposition of the slaves among us, and that only will flourish.
in a limited extent. Sir, said Mr. McL., what is Mr. McLANE, of Delaware, said he regretted the question now before the Committee ? very much the discussion of this subject in its France, by the treaty of April, 1803, ceded to present form, with regard to these territories, cal- the United States the territory of Louisianaculated as it was to arouse feelings which had by certain limits, within which are contained the long slumbered, and which could never be resusci. territories of Missouri and Arkansas, and upon tated without great danger to that humane object the terms therein specified. At the time of this we all had in view. He regretted it the more, cession there were a number of slaves in both because it never was without pain that he found places, belonging to the people inbabiting those himself compelled to assume even the appearance territories, and from that time, unul now, there has of opposition to the most enthusiastic notion for been no inhibition of the transportation of slaves the abolition of slavery. With such impressions, to these territories from those States whose muhe should not have taken any part in the discus- nicipal regulations permitted their exportation. sion, if the question had not been treated by the From these causes, the number has been increasFEBRUARY, 1819.
H. OF R,
ing daily to the present time, and it is admitted sense, that the owner has property in, or right to that there is at present a very considerable slave the service merely, it is, nevertheless, a right, and population,
we cannot interfere with that right by a mere ac.. The restrictions which are now proposed, of legislation. amount, in fact, first, to the emancipation of the What would be said of the Legislature of the present slaves and their issue; and, secondly, to State of Delaware, or Maryland, if, by law, they à condition precedent to the admission of these were to declare all the slaves within their terriTerritories into the Union, as States, that they tory to be free ? Could it be pretended for a shall prohibit ibe introduction of slavery in fu- moment that they would have any right to do so ? lure from any part of tbe United States. Under The utmost any State has done, has been to say, These provisions, persons removing thither with that, after a certain day, sometime in prospectheir families, and with the bona fide intention of tive, the issue of all persons held to slavery shall be residing permanently therein, are prohibited from free. He would not now discuss this right, though carrying with them this species of property, he could not discern how the right to the usushould ibey be the owners of any.
fruct of this property could be at all impaired, I have no doubt that these propositions proceed and, at any rate, in the case alluded to, the owner from the most humane philanthropic motives, would be allowed the privilege of removing his contemplation of a portion of territory consecra- take effect. As it regarded the slaves, at present ted to freedom, whose soil should never be moist- existing, therefore, we certainly had no power to ened by the tear of the slave, or degraded by the interfere; and the question was of consequence step of the oppressor or the oppressed. It is a narrowed down to the simple propositions to protheory wbich we should be very apt to reduce to hibit the introduction of slaves in future, and to practice without even consulting the condition denying to the inhabitants of those Territories of the present miserable race of slaves in many about to become States the right and privilege of parts of the United States, if we had the power deciding for themselves in this particular. It by io do so. But, although Mr. McL. desired the no means follows that they will not decide to result as sincerely as any man, he was bound to exclude slavery in future; it is quite probable say, that, after a deliberate investigation of the they will find it their interest to do so; but have subject, he did not believe that Congress possessed we the right of taking from them the privilege the power to impose the restriction. As it re- of judging of their own interest and policy in garded the unfortunate beings now held in slave this respect? To our power to do this, either as ту in those Territories, he said, he had no more regarded the State now to be admitted, or the right to provide for their liberation than he had territory hereafter to become a State, he consci. to invade any other species of property whatso-entiously believed the Constitution, and the naever. Their owners had acquired ihe legal title tional compact, to which he would hereafter reto their labor and services, it had become a vested fer more particularly, opposed an insuperable right, and we had no power to disturb it. We barrier. had no greater power to take from them their Mr. McL. said he denied that Congress had property in these slaves than we had to deprive power to impose any condition upon the admisihem of any challel or other object of ownersion of a State into ihe Union impairing its sovship. He did not mean to consider the slave as ereignty. We had a right to require the form a mere chattel; be viewed him as an ill-fated and spirit of its Constitution to be Republican, member of the human race, doomed by a hard and we had the right to say that we would or and cruel fortune to devote his labor and services would not admit, but we could go no further. We to another; he was the subject of the protecting could impose no terms in abridgment of its rights arm of the law, and his life and person were of sovereigaty whatsoever, and he protested sacred from those outrages which might be com- against the opposite doctrine as leading to the mitted with impunity upon other articles of most pernicious consequences. "New States may property. But, after all, his services and his per- be admitted by the Congress into this Union." son belonged to his owner; he was the property When so admitted they become members of the of his owner. The man who steals a slave is Union, as the others who have been admitted guilty of felony—this shows him to be property, before them; it is but an addition of another link But, the constitutions of the States in which to the old chain; incurring the same obligations slavery is tolerated, and the Constitution of the to contribute to the common defence and general United States, recognise the interest of the owner welfare, and therefore entitled to the same rights in his slave as property. The Union of the and privileges with the other Confederates. The States is founded upon ibis priociple; and the term "State" imports sovereignty, and the term owner is authorized to reclaim bis slave on the "State," in relation to the federative system of ground of property, when he shall have abscond- the United States, imports the same degree of ed from his service. In many of the States they sovereignty as is enjoyed by the States of that are liable to be taken in execution and sold for Union. Ii is of the very essence of our Governdebt, considering them as property. This is the ment, that all the Stales composing the Union law in the State which I have the honor in part should have equal sovereignty. li is the great to represent. If we treat them, therefore, as principle on which the Union reposes-the germ property, and if we even consider it in a limited of its duration. How long would this empire
be held together, composed as it is of many parts tion, therefore, would not only be unconstitutionunited together for a common interest, if all ihose al, but useless. We do not possess the political parts were unequal in their privileges, unequal power to enforce it; an attempt to do so would, in their rights, but compelled to make an equal no doubt, prove abortive as to its object; but it contribution to the support of the others ?' It might leave behind it a deep and lasting wound, would be a motley tribe of sovereign and demi- rankling in the bosom of the State, and finally sovereign States—a congregated mass of inco- alienate all their respect for your authority. herent particles--disorder and dismemberment But, Mr. Chairman, said Mr. McL., besides would be the inevitable consequence. Besides, the general principles already adverted to, we are sir, a constitution is the charter containing the not at liberty, as respects this Territory, to conprinciples by which men are to be governed in sult our power
, if we possessed it. We are bound their persons and property-it is the charter of to these people by a compact which forbids us to rights of a free people in its formation, deliber- impose the condition, and we cannot, without a ation and freedom of deliberation are necessary breach of faith, violate that compact. The third ingredients; but, if we are to make their consti- article of the treaty of cession provides, that, tution, or prescribe the terms of it, what becomes The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be of the right of deliberation? We dictate the incorporated in the union of the United States, terms ourselves to suit our views, without regard and admitted as soon as possible, according to to their interests or condition. In effect, we agree the principles of the Federal Constitution, to to admit them to be a State if they will consent the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and to be less than a State to constitute them a immunities of citizens of the United Statesmember of the Union, if they will agree to give and, in the meantime, they shall be maintained up the right of judging of the form of govern- and protected in the free enjoyment of their libment best adapted to their condition. But, sir, erty, property, and the religion they profess." what are the limits of this power? If we have This article applies both to Missouri and Arthe right to impose this condition, what condition kansas; and, in fact, so do all the arguments alhave we not a right to impose ? The power must ready used; for, though the law now to be passed be general, or it does not exist. If we have the refers to Arkansas as a Territory, yet it will shortright to insist upon a stipulation on the part of ly become a State, and the principles derivable the new State, not to admit slaves, because it is from its sovereignty would then apply with equal humane and politic to do so, we would have an force. By this treaty, then, we have stipulated equal right to insist upon a stipulation of another to protect the inhabitants of this Territory in the kind, if it should also appear to us to be wise and enjoyment of their property, of which their slaves politic; we might prescribe, as a condition, that unquestionably formed a part, until they can be iheir right of suffrage should be regulated as we incorporated in the union of the United States, should direct; that their representation should that is, until their population shall amount to the not be as large, in proportion to their population, number always required to authorize the admisas other States; that they should not have the sion of a State, or until Congress shall pass a law benefit of the equality of taxation; that they authorizing them to form a constitution. As soon should surrender to ihe General Government as this is the case, they are to be “incorporated greater powers, and retain fewer rights, than the in the union of the United States," and admitted, other Siates of the Union had done; or that they according to the principles of the Federal Conshould encourage this or that religion, or no restitution," to the enjoyment of all the rights, adligion at all. And, sir, at some fuiure day, when vantages, and immunities of " citizens of the the slaveholding interest, as it has been called, United States." What are these "rights, adpredominates in this body, it might be made a vantages, and immunities," "according to the condition, upon the admission of a new State, principles of the Federal Constitution ? That that slavery should not only be tolerated, but that they shall have the right of holding slaves if they it should never afterwards be interdicted. Let please to do so; that they shall form State govgentlemen remember, too, that the predominance ernments, with the same rights and immunities of this interest is by no means improbable, and of all other State governments; that they shall that there yet remains a vast, unsettled region, have the same power to make their municipal which the future growth of this mighty empire laws as any other States, and the same advantages is destined to people and improve. Šir, it is the as citizens of the United States. As such, as citiundoubted right of every people, when admitted zens of the United States, the right to possess to be a State, to become free, sovereign, and in-slaves is unquestionable. It cannot be doubted dependent-free to make their own constitution that all the States possess this right of admitting and laws to be the judges of their own policy, or excluding slavery within their jurisdiction, as and free to alter or amend them at pleasure. The they may think fit. 'Pennsylvania and New York moment they are constituted a Staie, they would possess this right; and, though it is their present have these rights, notwithstanding the condition policy to exclude slavery, no one can doubt that imposed; and, if they were to present you with ihey would have the right to-morrow, if they a constitution, containing this provision, it would thought proper to do so, to alter their policy, and be matter of form only; they could change it permit the introduction of slavery. The right immediately afterwards, and abolish the very to hold slaves, and, which is more important as it feature you would desire to retain. The condi- respects their freedom and sovereigniy, the right FEBRUARY, 1819.
H. OF R.
to decide whether they will or will not hold them, of the Southern planter, when emigrating to the is as much an immunity and advantage, under Western country in pursuit of the riches which our Constitution, as the right to be represented in that fruitful territory holds out to an industrious Congress, or the right to a freedom of religious enterprise and I would not permit them to be opinion, or the right to have the slaves accounted sold by traders, or become the objects of profite a part of their population, in the manner, pre- they would by this means become dispersed over scribed by the Constitution. We have no more a wider field; their condition would necessarily power to impair one than another of these rights. be improved, (for they always thrive and do betSir
, we cannot attach too much importance to ter when held in small numbers;) and the chances this treaty, and the rights secured by it. It was of emancipation would certainly be multiplied the condition of the transfer of the original in- in both countries; the number would be less in habitants of this Territory, and their possessions, the South and the West; they would be less forfrom their former Government to ours. They midable to the white population ; and in the enjoyed these rights under their old Government, course of time gradually acquire ease and freeand in the exchange of allegiance they were as-dom. In the State from which I have the honor sured that it should not be lost; that the United to come, the work of emancipation is rapidly States would guaranty them these rights, and progressing, and, I believe, principally owing to protect them in their enjoyment. Strangers as the sparseness of this description of population. ihese people were to us and to our institutions, Their condition is also better than those further the solemn obligations of the treaty should, on South, from the same cause. There is, however, this account, be sacredly observed. We are to one view of this part of the subject so nearly win their affections for our Government and allied to the right of Congress to impose the conConstitution, which can only be done by a sacred templated restriction, that I cannot avoid advertregard for their rights and our own obligations. ing to it. It is said by the gentlemen from the The inhabitants who have since emigrated to this South that this Territory was purchased with the Territory, have gone under the faith of this treaty, common fund of the nation, to whose benefits all relying upon the known good faith of the Ameri- have an equal right; and that, by preventing the can Government, for the strict fulfilment of its Southern planter from carrying his slaves with stipulations. Sir, the prosperity and union of the him when he goes to settle in this Territory, you United States depend upon the honest perform- interdict the emigration from that quarter altogeance of all the engagements on the part of the ther. Although it is clear that anyone State might Government. The protection to all its mem-frame its municipal regulations so as to exclude bers of the people, of the country in the en- the introduction of slaves, even by persons removjoyment of their rights, of every description, is ing into it, yet it can scarcely be doubted that the the object of the Union. When the disposition exercise of this right ought to be left to the sound to do this effectually ceases, the great chain by discretion of each state ; and we know the polwhich we are connected will cease to bind us. icy of different States varies in this particular. And, sir, if any one or more of the States have a In Delaware, persons removing from or into the deeper interest in the faithful execution of the State are permitted to carry their slaves with principles of our compact, it is the small States, them: their introduction and exportation is prowho should be the last to relax the most rigid hibited only for the purposes of sale. In Pennenforcement of their true spirit and intention. sylvania it is otherwise. Congress would cer
It does therefore appear to me, Mr. Chairman, tainly have no power to interdict the emigration said Mr. McL., that we are prevented, both by from one State to another; and it is worthy of the principles of our Constitution and the terms consideration how far they can do the same by of our solemo compact, from imposing this re- indirect means. I cannot admit the construction striction ; that, without considering the expedi- of the honorable gentleman from New York ency of the measure, it becomes a conscientious (Mr. SPENCER) of the clause of the Constitution duty (though to some, and to me among others, which provides that the emigration or importaa painful ope) to resist it. And yet, sir, a view tion of such persons as any of the States now of the question of expediency would go very far existing shall think proper to admit shall not be to mitigate the pain which we might otherwise prohibited prior to the year 1808. This clause feel at being unable to gratify our wishes. We was designed to embrace all classes of peoplehave now in the United States a large slave pop- freemen as well as slaves coming from abroad. ulation. It is certain that it cannot be increased It could not mean to authorize Congress to proby importations from abroad. Their sudden eman- hibit the migration from one State to another, cipation is utterly impracticable. In their pres because it would conflict with another provision, ent situation, even a gradual one is almost hope that citizens of one State shall be entitled to all less. To meliorate their sufferings, and soften the privileges of free citizens in another, which the rigors of their servitude, is the most that can secures the right of emigration; and because, if be done in many parts of the country. But while it were designed to vest the power in Congress, they are confined exclusively to the Southern it would of necessity, to be available at all, be an States, owned in large numbers by a single indi. exclusive power; but we all see the States convidual, and limited to a siogle farm, even this stantly exercising it, and they have been in the change is scarcely to be expected. If, however, habit of exercising it ever since the adoption of they were permitted to be carried by the children the Constitution.