Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

:ither of policy nor of superstition can move it:

t fears not policy, that heretic,

hat works on leases of short numbered hours,

it all alone stands hugely politic."—Shak.

Hence the stern countenance and the pect of terror and of threat, which men ear when this sacred topic is invaded, is a fearful topic: the idea of it overhelms and terrifies. Only the severe and rious mind can approach it; it involves ,e history of man; it touches the liberty 'thought; it repels all control; the difrences it creates are inexplicable, irremeable; the fear of Death has no power 'er it: to comprehend it is to compre;nd all law and government: it is to know yht and wrong, to have been familiar ith fear, and resistance, and suffering. The full accomplished liberty of man is deed a hope so dignified, that the gra;st may entertain it with enthusiasm; all e great and solemn wisdom of legislators the old republics, sprang from this idea; ir ancestors entertained it; theology has ized upon it; literature lives by it; the ws of free States are its defence; wherever exists in a sufficient number of minds, id with a sufficient distinctness, laws and ■ivileges are created to nurture, strengthi, and maintain it, in all its degrees. In udalism, in constitutional monarchy, and the Republic, we have its grand em>diments. Being the mark, and crown, of imanity arrived at maturity, it is the first ature in the idea of man in the Republic; id we say of the freeman, that he and his Hows are created free and equal, the epublic knows no other men; if there s slaves and criminals in it, they do not slong to it; they are classed among its icidents and its imperfections. The vast machinery of State, the Execute, the cabinet, Congress, the courts of w, the army and navy, the fiscal officers, e polls, all have but one purpose, to aintain and protect liberty. To say, however, that liberty is a crca)n of the law, is to say too much, for no w or constitution can, of course, more an protect it in its privileges. But we low it is not proper to man in his lawss, infantile or ignorant state; nor have 1 men, or races of men, exhibited the ca

pacity for its exercise: a few nations, only, have realized it, and always imperfectly.

Political liberty, imaging the mind of a bold, enterprising and intelligent nation, numerous, able in war, skillful in arts, possessing a history, a statute book, and a body of law and custom; such liberty is rather the fruit of the greatest virtue and suffering, possible only after a long probation and discipline, and is so far from being common or equal, great numbers, indeed, even m free States, are ignorant of its nature and value, while they live protected by it. As the state of liberty in the mind is one with the state of law, those only can enjoy it to the full, who have the principles of law within them ; persons devoid of truth, of spirit and of virtue, can of course have no appreciation of it. Natural liberty, or rather natural virtue, being extremely rare in its perfection, those who possess it have always constituted a superior order, either as nations, tribes, classes, or individuals. Men of free, elevated character, may, however, be so numerous in a nation as to shape its institutions ; and these institutions may so train and educate the many, as to constitute a nation of freemen.

But no free people who have preserved their institutions have granted political liberty to all promiscuously. For the exercise of its first function—the franchise—a part only are selected, fitted by age, circumstances and patriotic sympathy, for its right employment. It is an error to suppose that liberty is best protected by conferring unlimited privileges upon all. It is necessary that those, only, should exercise a function who can use it with discretion and freedom. The appointing power lodged in the people, cannot be properly exercised by persons devoid of natural or educated freedom.

Liberty does not consist in every man's having a hand in the government; franchise is a regular function of government, and we might as well make all men justices, or governors, as make all voters.

Nor will it strengthen liberty to makt sacrifices to abstract principles. As it has been established by a gradual process, it can be conferred only by one as gradual: if the slave is to be made free, he must be emancipated in such a manner as that he shall not fall back into his original barbarism, deprived of the superior influence of the white man, by whom he is raised from a horrid and cannibal freedom, to a useful and important servitude. He has been taught the arts of life, but he has not been taught to live in organized community. His future amelioration must necessarily be by a slow progress, and more by the gradual effect of circumstances than by any sudden or violent efforts, which would end only in his extinction.

Though, therefore, we regard the extinction of slavery, (not of the slave,) as one of the great and desirable ends of statesmanship in this age, as it has been in all past ages, we admit no violent methods, no unconstitutional interference, no ferocious denunciations; the work must be done by tbose whom nature and the laws appoint to do it, and they must be allowed their own time: liberty in this particular is so absolutely theirs, any attempt to infringe upon it is a declaration of war

against our institutions.

* * * * *

On the morning of June 27th, when the bill for an establishment of a territoral government in Oregon came up, "Mr. Bright, of Indiana, gave notice that he would move the adoption of the Missouri Compromise, as an amendment to the bill, at a proper time in its progress." Mr. Calhoun then rose, and in a speech of moderate length, as is usual with him, but full of matter for reflection, set forth the position and opinion of the extreme Southern party as he represents it.

"There is a very striking difference between the position in which the slaveholding and non-slaveholding States stand in reference to the subject under consideration. The former desire no action of the Government. * * * On the contrary, the non-slaveholding States, instead of being willing to leave it on this broad and equal foundation, demand the interposition of the Government, and the passage of an act to exclude the slaveholding States [>om emigrating with their property into the territory, in order to give their citizens, and those hey may permit, the exclusive right of settling ;t, while it remains in that condition, preparatory o subjecting it to like restrictions and conditions .vhen it becomes a State. The 12th section of his bill in reality adopts what is called the YVilnot proviso, not only for Oregon, but, as the bill Iow stands, for New Mexico and California. The amendment, on the contrary, moved by he Senator from Mississippi, near me, (Mr. ) i Tis,) is intended to assert and maintain the

position of the slaveholding States. It leaves the terrritory free and open to all the citizens of the United States, and would overrule, if adopted, the act of the self-constituted Territory of Oregon, and the 12th section, as far as it relates to the subject under consideration. We have thus fairly presentedthe grounds taken by the non-slaveholding and the slaveholding States, or, as I shall call them for the sake of brevity, the Northern and Southern States, in their whole extent, for discussion."

This statement lays the subject of the controversy between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding Stales; whereas it lies properly not between the States, which are merely governments, and have only an interest of guardianship in the matter, but between slaveholders and non-slaveholders generally, in all parts of the Union. Mr. Calhoun and his friends have succeeded in giving it a sectional aspect, but a slight examination of the grounds of this controvery shows that it is a contest between the possessors of a certain kind of property, who are a small minority of the citizens, and non-possessors of the same, who are a vast majority. Were the favorite principle of Democracy to be called in aid of a decision, the question would be abruptly settled; but the South appeals to the constitutional principle, that the rights of each and of all shall be equally respected.

Non-slaveholders in all parts of the nation who wish to emigrate into the newterritory, claim that this peculiar kind of property shall be declared contraband by Congress, and its importation forbidden. The citizens of Oregon, who, in the absence of a protecting power, very properly established a government for themselves, until such time as one should be granted them by the people of the United States, have declared their wish in this respect by laws against the introduction of slaves. Here, in the territories of Oregon, the free laborers, who feared they might be driven from their homes by the introduction of slaves, have protested against their introduction, and this protest every citizen, be he slaveholder or not, is bound in honor to respect. The free emigrants do not certainly wish to injure slaveholders, or, as Mr. Calhoun says, to exclude citizens with their property: with their property in any other shape, citizens would be welcome— nay, joyfully received into the new tern

tory: it is merely against the form of the property, as being of a kind that will destroy the value of their free labor, that the emigrants protest. In such a view of the case, it is evident the necessity for the establishment of a free territory for the emigrants is an imperative duty, enjoined by humanity and honor upon Congress, and our confidence in the integrity and justice of Southern Senators will nfct permit us to believe that they are not fully sensible of the propriety of such a policy.

That a policy of non-interference in this matter would leave slaveholders and free emigrants upon " a broad and equal foundation," as the Senator claims it would, is obviously not correct. Were the new territories left free to all kinds of property, the slaveholder, with his band of negroes, has a great advantage over the free laborer. Slaveholders, therefore, having certain immunities and privileges, in which they are protected by the military and civil force of the United States, all that the non-slaveholders require, is to be defended against the injurious effects of these upon themselves.

The question at issue, and which is .it tliis moment proceeding to a decision, is whether the peculiar privileges and immunities of the slaveholder shall be permitted to deter and prevent the emigration of free laborers from all parts of the Union into the new territories. If any person can discover injustice or monopoly in this claim of the laboring citizen to be protected by a declaration of contraband against a certain kind of property,'we concede him a more penetrating moral vision than our own. Slaveholders must maintain their privileges, and make good their independent rights, but let this charge of a spirit of grasping and monopoly be repelled from the non-slaveholding citizen, and let his fair share, at least, of free territory be reserved to him by the power of the Nation.

And this brings us to another charge, directed against the secret intentions of those who urge the rights of the emigrant to a free territory :—

"The non-slaveholding States," says the Senator, * * * "demand the interposition of government, * * preparatory to subjecting it to like restrictions when it becomes a State.

far as well-informed citizens, who

understand the Constitution and their own rights, are concernd, no such design is entertained, nor will it be thought possible in future to grant constitutions to States, endowed with any other than a sovereign power.

The Senator then proceeds :—

"The first question which offers itself for consideration is : Have the Northern States the power which they claim, to exclude the Southern from emigrating freely, with their prvpfriy, into territories belonging to the Unities States, and to monopolize them for their exclusive benefit I"

But the question, we repeat it, is not of "States;" States are not to emigrate. South Carolina is not, surely, about to move bodily into the new territory! It is between citizens only. But does the Senator answer the question as it really stands, namely, whether this Government has power to declare any species of property contraband in the new territory?

"Has the North the power which it claims under the twelfth section of this bill'?" he continues. Is not this a question which involves a wrong supposition? It is not the power of the "North," but of Congress, which is now to be considered. We are to inquire whether Congress has power to declare contraband any species of property in the territories; but, as before, giving in to the usual loose and partisan form of statement, he continues: "Not certainly in the relation in which the Northern and Southern States stand to each other. They are the constituent parts, or members, of a common federal Union; and as such are equals in all respects, both in dignity and rights."

True; but this statement, like the others, leaves so many points uncertain, and loose, it fulls almost without effect

The States, it is said, are equal in authority, and weight. How is it then that the vote of New York, in the House, b so much more powerful than that of Delaware or Rhode Island? Indued, except as sectional opinion points them out, the States do not appear at all in the House: only thr people—the nation—appears there. Neither do the States appear in the Executive —not a shade of State sovereignty appears in (lie Executive. The House and the Ei ecutive standing for the nation, and tbi Senate alone standing for the State Governments, together constitute the Supreme Authority. This declaration of the equality and independence of the State Governments, is quite unnecessary, therefore, and has no weight in the argument.

It is not necessary to remind any person at all read in political affairs, that a power derived, like that of the House of Representatives, by an apportioned representation from all the citizens of the Union, is greater in degree, and in kind, than one established by perhaps a thirtieth part of the same, met upon a sectional council for the discussion of provincial business. This power is greater in degree, because it represents a greater territory and vaster population; it is greater in kind, because its functions are imperial, and that it meddles not with domestic or local matters. It is national, being derived, by an equal representation, from the vote of each independent citizen. By his electoral vote the choice for all officers, of nation, state, municipality, county, town, district, village, hamlet, proceeds from the individual citizen; from him is the independent nucleus—the vital point )f power—is derived this ray of choice, >r of representation.

Upon this ground of individual freedom ind power, as on a truly equal basis, mating all men peers, stands the power of he House; and because it does so stand, t is purely and absolutely national.

The superior legislative authority of this National House, in its proper sphere, over hat of any one House, of a particular tate, is secured, not so much by the ConLitution, as by the nature of things. The ower which establishes it is the same with iat which sustains the Constitution,* and f which a part, or section only, gives origin ) the House of each Legislative State. Let us consider next, though not in or;r, the National Executive, both as to its igin, and the powers especially given by i;it origin; for it is true of every Constitional authority, that not constitution, it derivation, both establishes and limits

The Executive power of the Republic is rived, first, from the necessity recognized ■ each citizen, for a commissioned and

'The Constitution expresses only that which is ■munently and continually necessary for the liby of the Nation.

lawful Will, to put the laws in execution. This necessity recognized, is the natural basis'of Presidential Authority.

His election, like that of a Representative, is popular, but with some modifications. For convenience, electors are first chosen, who accurately represent the people; the joint majorities of the citizens of each State, gives a majority of all the citizens of the Nation; and in case a majority is not had, then the choice is thrown upon the national representation in the House. But here the nature of the election is modified; the House voting not by members, but by States, and the election ceasing to be strictly popular. There is recognized, therefore, in the Executive Power, a State, as well as a National element; and this necessarily ; for the President is not only a defender of the National, but of the State sovereignties, and must support the authority and the rights of States.

Thus far we have considered the nature and derivation of the Central Power, as it proceeds from the people in mass—from the Nation. It remains now to look at that of the States, or of the Senate.

It is a fundamental necessity for a government based on representation, that every great political pow,er shall be represented in it.

A government, whatever be its name or power, being a body of men deputed to execute the laws, and to maintain order in society, is distinct from society. It is a power distinct from that of the people. It affects them, is feared and respected by them; it is affected by them, is swayed by and sways them : no state can be said to exist, in which a distinct body as government, either elective or hereditary, is not recognized and maintained.

At the founding of the Constitution, the two great powers recognized in this republic, namely, that of the equal Citizen, and that of the equal State, were distinctly recognized.

The founders supposed, that if the powers of the citizen alone were recognized, and should predominate, the nation would fall together into a centralized Democracy, and end in despotism, The State Governments, on the other hand, would have then become disturbing and disorganizing powers, warring against, and embarrassing, a government in which they were not represented, and which would become their natural enemy. Had there been a powerful aristocracy,—had there been many free commercial cities,—had there been a great national church, holding political power;— it would have been necessary to the peace of the nation, that these powers be represented in Congress. But, as it happened, there was no aristocracy, there was no powerful church, there were no independent cities,—there were only two recognized powers, first, the body of the nation, peers— speaking one language, and forming that equal band of freemen who fought the battle of the revolution,—and, second, the governing bodies of the States. These latter demanded representation, and received it in the Senate.

In a government composed in this manner of all the elements of national power, an authority less than imperial cannot be supposed to exist, nor would it require a labored argument to show, that the authority thus constituted is as great as the nation can require, in any exigent of peace or war.

Containing, in the House, the authority derived from the consent of all the citizens; in the Senate, that which is derived from the governing bodies of the States; and in the Executive, an union of both ;— and all limited, and strictly subordinated, by a Constitution, anterior and superior to it, this government stands superior in rank and in kind, to that of any one of the States.

After such a view, the old idea of the federation, that Congress is the creature and tool of the State Governments, falls quite to the ground.

Though it be unquestionably true, then, as the Senator declares, " that the States are constituent parts of the common federal government of the Union, and as such are equals in all respects both in dignity and rights," " this relation in which they tasnd to each other furnishes a strong presumption," not only that they have no combined or separate authority over the territory which extends to the prohibition of slave property ; but farther, that the States, separately or in combination, hace no power whatever over the territories; since this power lodges properly in Congress and the Executive; and only by their

votes in the Senate have the States any influence in the matter. Senators, in the performance of their duty, defend the rights of their several State governments, but it may well be asked, what good they hope to effect by using a language that implies for the representation of States, in the Senate, a power which belongs to them only in conjunction with the House and the Executive?

And here, in the midst of other matter for question, we stumble upon a new doctrine offered by Mr. Calhoun,—that slarr property, "the only species of property recognized," says he, "by the Constitution, (!)—was also " the only one that entered into its formation as a political power," (!) —" and this is the only one that is put under the express guarantee of the Constitution," he adds. And this is offered as a member of an argument limiting the power of Congress over slavery in the territory!

To this the reply is simple,—first, that the word ' slave' is not used in the Constitution at all, and that it is not literally true that the Constitution recognizes slav? property. The Constitution assumed npower over slavery in the States, and would neither recognize, nor not recognize it. But when it came to apportion representation by population, it was obliged to reckon in all descriptions of persons, without naming them. Democracy profes*-to believe that a property represenUtiir is a false and unjust representation. It is. therefore, necessary for Democracy to «xplain this slave representation by another theory; and to say that not property but the life and safety of the slave and h* master, taken together as one family, or system, was looked to in the apportion ment.

After touching upon the foregoing, lb Calhoun then repeats the question. "Balif it cannot be found in either—if it exists Ai all, the power must be looked fot in th» compact which binds these States tojetke in a federal Union. Does that instnioml contain any provision which gives tk« North the power to exclude the Scmsi from a free admission into the terriioriearf the United Stales with its peculiar property, and to monopolize them for its o»: exclusive use?" To which we reply -** b*fore, that the Constitution does no

« AnteriorContinuar »