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dary proposed by Ohio. As a question of expediency there is certainly no reason why the neighboring States should be increased at the expense of this Territory; and should the subject be brought in this form before Congress, we may safely rely for our security upon the very obvious considerations, both political and geographical, which will present themselves.
The situation of the roads made by the general government in this Territory, calls for the adoption of some system, by which they may be repaired and kept in repair. Considerable expense has been incurred in their construction, and their preservation is highly important to the community. Diverging, as they do, from the seat of the Territorial government, and the principal mart of business upon this frontier, they extend into the interior of the country in various directions, and furnish the means of extensive communication. The population is yet thin along many portions of them, and the ordinary labor, required by law to be applied to the repair of roads, is insufficient for their preservation. Their condition calls for legislative interposition, for unless some remedial plan can be adopted, serious inconvenience and loss to the country generally will be the consequence.
Applications have been made for the appointment of Commissioners to locate the seats of justice in the counties of Jackson, Hillsdale, St. Joseph, Cass, Kalamazoo, Branch, Saginaw and Lapeer, and commissions for that purpose have been issued. No report has however been received, except from the county of Jackson, a copy of which and of my letter to the Commissioners is herewith transmitted to you. For the reasons stated in the letter, I have not issued the proclamatiou authorized by law, confirming the proceedings, and establishing the site recommended by the Commissioners. It will however be done, as soon as the necessary evidence is furnished that the proprietors have conveyed, for the use of the county, the lots offered by them. I have no doubt, but that the operation of the law, providing for the location of the seats of justice in the new counties, will be found to be salutary. By fixing these locations at an early period, many perplexing questions are avoided. The counties are settled with a knowledge that the seats of justice are established, and those local interests, which under other circumstances would agitate the community, are not called into action. I shall not hesitate, in any case, where a proper application is made to me, and where a sufficient quantity of land has been purchased from the United States, to allow a judicious selection to be made, to exercise the power vested in me, by the appointment of commissioners to locate the seats of justice.
A recent event in the administration of the criminal justice of the Territory, has directed public attention to that part of our penal code, which prescribes the punishment of death. We have adopted much of the common law doctrine upon the subject of homicide, and recognize no difference between a cool, deliberate, and previously contemplated murder, and one which is the result of sudden and violent passion, unjustifiable, no doubt, but far more excusable than the former. There is a manifest difference in the degrees of guilt in these cases, and there should be a corresponding difference in the penalties. While the last act of human punishment is reserved for the former, imprisonment for life or for a term of years, with such provisions for solitary confinement and labor, as may best tend to the reformation of the criminal, and to the great object of public example, would seem to be sufficient for the latter. And many of the States of the Union have engrafted this obvious distinction upon their codes, and mitigated the punishment of the inferior offence. In fact, the opinion gains ground through the civilized world, that human life has been too often sacrificed to unjust laws, which seek the death of the offender, rather than his reformation. Governments have found it easy to put an end to the transgressions of offenders, by putting an end to their lives. While the difficult problem, whose solution is equally required by policy and humanity, of uniting reformation, example and security, has been neg. lected, as unimportant or unattainable. The period is probably not far distant, when it will be universally acknowledged, that all the just objects of human laws may be fully answered, without the infliction of capital punishment. It appears advisable, that authority should be given to commute higher punishments for those which are inferior, in cases calling for executive interposition, and whose circumstances do not justify an unconditional pardon. As the law now stands, criminals must sometimes wholly escape, or sentences be carried into execution, where powerful considerations present themselves in favor of mitigating the punishment.
By the present organization of our judicial system, all causes not cognizable by justices of the peace, and all which are appealed from the decisions of those magistrates, are brought before the Supreme Court or Circuit Courts, which are thus rendered the tribunals for the adjudication of a large proportion of the litigated cases of the country. By this arrangement, a heavy duty is not only imposed upon the Territorial Judges, but in the county of Wayne in particular, there is such an accumulation of business, that great delay necessarily occurs in the administration of justice. As new counties are organized, and the business of the country increases, this evil will be still more severely felt. An adequate remedy will probably be found in the institution of inferior courts, or in the restoration of a portion of their jurisdiction to the County Courts. Causes are also removed with too much facility. It appears to me that a thorough revision is called for of the various processes, by which causes are carried from inferior to superior tribunals. Appeals, by which matters of fact are re-examined, are granted of course. In addition to these, there is no good reason, why all the common law writs and proceedings, originating in a state of things, essentially different from our own, and some of them devised or applied for the purpose of accomplishing indirectly what could not be done directly, should be employed in arresting the proceedings in a cause, and in its transfer, with various incidents and consequences, to another tribunal. A judicial system must be radically defective, which allows the removal of causes, for the mere purpose of delay. Such delays are not only subversive of the ends of justice, but they increase the ex. pense of litigation to the parties, far beyond any advantages which either can expect to derive from them.
In the progress of your legislative labors, whatever aid can be rendered by my co-operation, that can be useful to the Territory, shall be cheerfully afforded.
LEWIS CASS. January 5, 1831.
DETROIT, MICHIGAN TER. AUGUST 11, 1820. Sir-In the temporary absence of Governor Cass, it has devolved upon me, as Secretary of Michigan, to perform the Executive functions of this Government, and I have the honor in that capacity to solicit your Excellency's attention to the subject of the collision of authority, which unfortu
nately exists between the State of Ohio and this Territory, as it affects the people, who live between the line running due east from the south extreme of Lake Michigan, and that which is claimed from the north cape of Miami Bay, in a direction towards the same point.
It is understood that a new county has recently been organized by the authority of Ohio, comprehending the disputed country; that proceedings have been instituted there to levy taxes; and that every indication exists of a determi. nation to enforce, contrary to the wishes of the people and to the interests of this Territory, the claimed jurisdiction of Ohio.
In this exigency my official interposition has been claimed; and painful as it may be to me, individually, to oppose myself to the views of Ohio, the State of my early adoption, it is yet with much satisfaction that it is to you, Sir, from whom I have so much of candor to expect, that I feel called upon to submit briefly my views of this interesting matter.
The claim of sovereignty over the district of country in question, which Ohio prefers, rests, I understand, upon the alleged acceptance by the General Government, of the constitution of Ohio; in which constitution is a clause, providing that in a certain event, with the assent of Congress, the northern boundary of that State, shall be as is now claimed by Ohio.
If such statement of the case be true, and if it were competent for the General Government "with the assent of Congress,” to alter the previously established boundary, it may nevertheless be submitted to your Excellancy, whether any other deduction be fairly inferrible from the premises, than that the General Government agreed with the people of Ohio that, if Congress should thereafter assent to it, the boundary in question might, at a time then future, be altered in the manner suggested by the framers of that constitution; and leaving it still for Congress to act specifically upon such a proposition, when it should thereafter be presented to them.
The strongest aspect in which the question can be fairly presented by those who would favor the pretensions of Ohio, is one in which Congrers may be supposed, by adopting the constitution, themselves to speak the language of it. What then may they be supposed to say, other than this, that we (the General Government) agree that in a certain event, the boundary line in question may be altered, provi
ded Congress shall agree to such alteration, whenever afterward such proposition shall be made. Such a deduction from the premises assumed, I beg leave to suggest as the true one. But there are other considerations and of a more general nature ; and which would not be deemed the less applicable, if the alteration contended for had rested on words of positive import. The framers of that constitution were certainly incompetent to make any positive alteration in the boundaries previously defined. The act of Congress of the 3d April, 1802, which was the substratum of all their authority--which alone sustained the political fabric which they erected, expressly circumscribed them. In whatsoever respect they may have transcended their powers, in so far their acts must have been merely void. Nor could it have required an affirmative act of Congress to make them more 50. Is it fair, then, to presume from the absolute silence of Congress concerning this subject, (whether the proposed alteration were, in its terms, absolute or merely conditional) that therefore they assented to the specific alteration, thus without previous authority exhibited in this fundamental law of the State ? Had that constitution contained any other absurd or void proposition, as for example, had it proposed to extend the sovereign power of the State so far as to comprehend a part of Maine or Virginia, would such void act have acquired validity upon the admission of the State, because Congress should not have taken notice of such void proposition ? It will not have escaped the observation of your
Excellency, that Congress have not by any positive legislative act, expressly avowed their assent to any part of the constitution of Ohio. Can such assent then be inferrible in regard to any proposition contained in it, except in regard to such as, by the constitution of the United States, it is imperatively made the duty of Congress to act upon, upon the admission into the Union of any new State? It may bě conceded, that upon a view of the leading features of that constitution, Congress have assented to the proposition, that the Government of Ohio is republican, but that the rest of the principles contained in it, not requiring the sanction of Congress, must rest for their validity upon their own intrinsic and respective merits; otherwise, all responsibility for their moral and political correctness becomes shifted from the people of Ohio; the whole instrument becomes the act of Congress, and consequently cannot be altered but by the assent of that