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country. Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these cir. cumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it-take control of it-even there, to a certain extent. In 1798 Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organi. zation they prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory from any place without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the “ thirtynine" who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read, and Abraham Baldwin. They all probably voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon record if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from Federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, propa erly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.
In 1803 the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States ; but this Louisiana country was ac. quired from a foreign nation. In 1804 Con. gress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now constitutes the State of Louisi. ana. New Orleans, lying within that party was an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable towns and settle. ments, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery ; but they did interfere with it-take control of it-in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the provision therein made in relation to slaves was :
Ist. That no slave should be imported into the Territory from foreign parts.
2d. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.
3d. That no slave should be carried into it, except by the owner, and for his own use as a settler ; the penalty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave...
This act also was passed without ayes or nays. In the Congress which passed it there were two of the thirty-nine.”. They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to it if, in their understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local from Federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution. * ..
son In 1819-20 came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were taken, by yeas and aays. in both branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the general question. Two of the “ thirty-nine"-Rufus King and Charles Pinckney-were members of that Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in Federal terri. tory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that, in his understanding, there was some sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.
The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover.
To enumerate the persons who thus acted as being four in 1784, two in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two id 1819-20, there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read each twice, and Abraham Bald. win three times. The true number of those of the “ thirty-nine" whom I have shown to have acted upon the question which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.
Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers “ who framed the govern. ment under which we live," who have, upon their official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which the text affirms they " understood just as well, and even better, than we do now ;" and twentyone of them a clear majority of the whole “ thirty-nine"-SO acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety and wilful perjury if, in their understanding, any proper division between local and Federal adthority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the Federal Territories. Thus the twenty-one acted ; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions under such responsibility speak still louder.
Two of the twenty-three voted against congressional prohibition of slavery in the Federal Territories, in the instances in which they acted upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known. They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local from Federal authority, or some provision or principle of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted against the prohibition on what apo peared to them to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a meas, ure which he deems constitutional if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the prohibition as having done so because, in their understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.
The remaining sixteen of the thirty-nine," so far as I have discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of Federal control of slavery in the Federal Territories. But there is much reason to be. lieve that their understanding upon that ques. tion would not have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at all.
For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever under. standing may have been manifested by any person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution ; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the "thirty-nine" even on any other phase of the general question of slavery." If we should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the