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would be an alteration made in some of the articles of the confederation, so it is plain that, when made, it could not be valid nor enforced until it were confirmed by the Legislature of every State, that is, of all the States. Do you think the Legislatures of the Slaveholding States would confirm it? This would depend on their own will. Suppose they should withhold the confirmation required: what would the consequence be? Either you must renounce the amendment, and look upon it so as if it never had been made, or the Slaveholding States, by the very act of refusing to confirm it, would place themselves out of the Union. And thus, after making the amendment, you would find them there where they are before its making.
You may here remark how different language that article uses for the different cases therein contemplated. "On all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them," it simply says that "Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled;" without adding anything else. The reason is, because, as each State has already agreed on the questions to be submitted, as well as on the manner of deciding them, so the decision made in any of them in the usual way, or by majority, is of course binding for every particular State. Although she does not approve the resolution at the time when it is made, yet, having consented, and, as it were, approved it in advance when she entered the Union, she must now make good her word.
But when an alteration is to be made in any of the articles of the confederation, then, in order to bind any one of the States, it is not enough that the determination is agreed to by the United States in Congress assembled: it is also necessary that every State, or her Legislature, confirms it. The reason of the difference appears to be manifest; because, this being a new thing, every State, in regard to it, is yet in possession of her original right of approving or disapproving, as she judges best for herself: In the same manner, as she would have had the right to approve or dis
approve at the time of her entering into the confederation, if the alteration now made had been proposed then. That consent which she has not given before, she is required to give afterward.
If you wish, therefore, to exclude Slavery from the common territories by act of Legislature, which the Slaveholding States should be obliged to observe, you have no other way to proceed rightly, but previously to get their consent for its proposal as well as their promise that they will obey its prescriptions when passed. They may possibly consent to it. You might even observe for its enactment the forms and manner which the Constitution prescribes for making amendments: not for that, however, would it be an amendment to that instrument; and much less could it be regarded as made by its authority and power. The power on which its validity would rest, is only the free concurrence and consent of the Slaveholding States.
With regard to the Constitution, such a law, when enacted, might indeed be made a part of that instrument: not, however, in the light of an amendment, as if correcting an error, or filling up an omission, in it, but rather in the light of an addition, or modification, to say the least. For, in reality, its import would be a partial destruction of the Constitution; since, so far as its working and object extend, by so much the principle of equality between the States and citizens of the Union in the enjoyment of the right of property, would, in regard to the slaveholders, be manifestly diminished.
To conclude: In order to settle forever this unfortunate quarrel between the North and the South, there are, in our judgment, but three ways: either the one or the other of them.
The first is, that the North must unconditionally abjure her political creed concerning the abolition of Slavery and its exclusion from the common territories of the Union; but must profess, instead, that she leaves its management and control exclusively to those States wherein Slavery exists.
This mode we chiefly recommend, it being the best and safest, because it is the justest. And the North should do this without pretending that she makes concessions, or bestows favors upon the South; for she would do no more than comply with a duty which the strictest justice, as well as the Constitution, and her own word solemnly pledged on entering the Union, command her to perform.
The second is, that the Slaveholding States, for themselves and their citizens respectively, should renounce once forever that part of their right which by the Act of Confederation and the Constitution enables them to settle with their slaves in the common territory of the Union. This they might do: and in case they did, it is not the North who could say that she uses liberality, or even moderation, toward the South; as if, in contenting herself with the exclusion of slavery from the Territories, she gave up the best part of her purpose, by not insisting further upon its absolute abolition (for neither of these things she has any right to pretend). On the contrary, it is the South who, in contenting herself to contain Slavery within her now existing States, would renounce the right she has with regard to the common territories. Which her renunciation, if it should not be acknowledged as a favor, would certainly be a concession she makes to the North.
Whether the one or the other of these two ways is entered upon, there should be enacted a law (which, though unnecessary by the Constitution, is rendered indispensable by past experience), by which Congress, confining their action to matters of common interest to all the United States and their citizens indiscriminately, should be forbidden, not only to meddle with slaves or slavery anywhere, but, under heavy and strictly enforced penalties against the violators, those very names should never be suffered to be pronounced in the hall of either House, except only upon petition of the Slaveholding States themselves; and this for the sole purpose of executing, if the case occurs, the laws
of the Constitution in those matters on which this document empowers Congress to determine.
The third is, that, if neither of the two preceding modes can be realized, the Union should be peacefully dissolved; dividing and apportioning the common property on every State in just proportion: and where the division in kind should for any reason prove impracticable, there the portion thus withheld should be compensated in money to the party to whom it belongs. This mode we must recommend as the only thing that remains. The States would thus separate from one another as partners do when, at the end of the association, either because its appointed time has expired, or because supervening circumstances render its continuance impossible, they distribute among themselves the common stock, and each carries home his own.
And, whether the States prefer to remain single, each by herself, or the so called free on the one side, and the slaveholding on the other, choose to form a confederacy (or rather continue in the Union) by themselves. respectively, they all should reciprocally enter into a treaty, as it is styled, of perpetual amity and friendship. Nothing can replace the Union, as we formed and cemented it but when, after trying all means in their power to restore it, the trial proves ineffectual, the next thing to it, though at a great distance, is that they should be strangers, but friends.
Such a treaty or league as I have hinted at, they, in that case, should not lose one moment to make; it being not only advantageous, but we might say indispensable to their welfare, and perhaps to their very existence as independent sovereignties. It would also check, if not prevent altogether, European intermeddling with American affairs in any of the States; against which evil they, every one of them, can never be too careful in guarding themselves. For it could not but create animosities and bring confusion among them, and sooner or later encompass their ruin.
We doubt not but that justice, self-interest, sound policy, and prudent foresight alike do imperatively demand of
every one of the States to pursue such a course as I have pointed to; and they will enter into it without delay, nor ever deviate from it, if they know their own advantage and intend to secure it with the means they have in their hands.
Most worthy of consideration, and alone sufficient to determine them upon that course, is the fact, that they all live upon the same continent, occupying, as it were, the same soil in. a continuity of area, although vast tracts of land between them are yet unseated; and that their respective governments are of republican form, nearly the same in all.
Add to this that, besides a community of language, habits, and manners, not to say of kindred, they have also many common interests, whose combined working, by increasing its amount and enlarging its sphere of operation, could not but produce the most beneficial results amongst them.
And those productions, whether natural or artificial, which are peculiar to them respectively, they should exchange among themselves, if not exclusively, yet to the full extent of their reciprocal wants; leaving the rest for foreign
Being accustomed to the same weights, measures, and coin, they might retain them and even adopt the same tariff throughout; except, perhaps, where stringent reasons in distinct localities should counsel a modification in some articles.
Thus each of the States might still enjoy the blessings of a free government; nay, of the Union itself, as nearly as possible. To secure this, they should leave nothing untried; and any other considerations should yield to that. Since they could not, or would not, be good sisters, they may yet, or should be, good neighbors and friends. And, perhaps, Separation will make them more closely united than did the Union.