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By promoting the intercourse of families and friends separated by ocean, cheap postage will add to the sum of human happiness.
The present high rates of ocean postage -- namely, twenty-four cents on half an ounce, forty-eight cents on an ounce, and ninety-six cents on a letter which weighs a fraction more than an ounce are a severe tax upon all, particularly upon the poor, amounting, in many cases, to a complete prohibition of foreign correspondence. This should not be.
It particularly becomes our country, by the removal of all unnecessary burdens upon foreign correspondence, to advance the comfort of European emigrants seeking a home among us, and to destroy, as far as practicable, every barrier to free intercourse between the Old World and the New
And, lastly, cheap ocean postage will be a bond of peace among the nations of the earth, and will extend good-will among men.
By such reasons this measure is commended. Much as I rejoice in the American steamers, which vindicate a peaceful supremacy of the seas, and help to weave a golden tissue between the two hemispheres, I cannot consider these, with all their unquestionable advantages, an equivalent for cheap ocean postage. I trust that they are not inconsistent with each other, and that both may flourish together.
Objection was made to the resolution, as not being addressed to the proper Committee, and a brief debate ensued, in which Mr. Rusk, Mr. Gwin, Mr. Badger, Mr. Davis, Mr. Seward, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Sunner took part. It was urged by the last, in reply, that the Committee on Naval Affairs was the proper Committee, as at the present moment it is specially charged with a subject intimately connected with the inquiry proposed. At the suggestion of Mr. Badger the matter was allowed to lie over till the next day.
On Tuesday, March 9th, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution submitted by Mr. Sumner on the 8th, relative to Ocean Steamers and Cheap Ocean Postage. On motion of Mr. Sumner, it was amended, and finally adopted, without opposition, as follows :
“ Resolved, That the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads be directed to inquire whether the present charges on letters carried by the Ocean Steamers are not unnecessarily large and burdensome to foreign correspondence, and whether something may not be done, and, if so, what, to secure the great boon of Cheap Ocean Postage."
THE PARDONING POWER OF THE PRESIDENT.
OPINION SUBMITTED TO THE PRESIDENT, May 14, 1852, ON THE AP
PLICATION FOR THE PARDON OF DRAYTON AND SAYRES, INCARCERATED AT WASHINGTON FOR HELPING THE ESCAPE OF SLAVES.
This case, from beginning to end, is a curious episode of Antislavery history. The people of Washington were surprised, on the morning of April 16, 1848, at hearing that the “ Pearl," a schooner from the North, had sailed down the Potomac with seventy-six slaves, who had hurried aboard in the vain hope of obtaining their freedom. The schooner was pursued and brought back to Washington with her human cargo, and the liberators, Drayton, master, and Sayres, mate. As the latter were taken from the river-side to the jail, they were followed by a proslavery mob, estimated at from four to six thousand people, many armed with deadly weapons, amid wrathful cries of, "Hang him !” “Lynch him!” with all profanities and abominations of speech, and exposed to violence of all kinds, — the thrust of a dirk-knife coming within an inch of Drayton. The same mob besieged the jail, and, hearing that Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, the brave Representative of Ohio, was there in consultation with the prisoners, demanded his immediate expulsion, and the jailer, to save bloodshed, insisted upon his departure. Nor was the prevailing rage confined to the jail. It extended to the office of the “National Era," the Antislavery paper, which was saved from destruction only through the courage and calmness of its admirable editor. The spirit of the mob entered both Houses of Congress, and the slave-masters raged, as was their wont.
Meanwhile Drayton and Sayres were indicted before the Criminal Court of the District of Columbia for “transporting slaves. There were no less than one hundred and fifteen indictments against each of the prisoners, and the bail demanded of each was seventy-six thousand dollars. Hon. Horace Mann, a Representative of Massachusetts, appeared for the defence. His speech on this occasion will be read with constant interest.1 The spirit of the mob without entered the court
1 Slavery: Letters and Speeches by Horace Mann, pp. 84-118.
room, betraying itself even in the conduct of the judge, while standing near the devoted counsel for the defence were men who cocked pistols and drew dirks in the mob that followed the prisoners to the jail. Of course the verdict was “Guilty," and the sentence was according to the extreme requirement of a barbarous law.
Drayton and Sayres lingered in prison more than four years, and during this long incarceration they were the objects of much sympathy at the North. A petition to Congress in their behalf, signed by leading Abolitionists, including the eloquent Wendell Phillips, was forwarded to Mr. Sumner for presentation to the Senate. On careful consideration, he was satisfied that such a petition, if presented, would excite the dominant power to insist more strongly than ever on the letter of the law, and he took the responsibility of withholding it. Meanwhile he visited the sufferers in prison, and appealed to President Fillmore for their pardon. In this application he was aided by that humane lady, Miss Dix. The President interposed doubts of his right to pardon in such a case, but expressed a desire for light on this point. At his invitation, Mr. Sumner laid before him the following paper, which was l'eferred to the Attorney-General, Mr. Crittenden, who gave an opinion affirming the power of the President, — adding, however, “Whether the power shall be exercised in this instance is another and very different question.”] This opinion bears date August 4, 1852, which, it will be observed, was some time after the Presidential Conventions of the two great political parties. Shortly afterwards the pardon was granted.
There was reason to believe that an attempt would be made to arrest the pardoned persons on warrants from the Governor of Virginia. Anticipating this peril, Mr. Sumner, as soon as the pardon was signed, hurried to the jail in a carriage, and, taking them with him, put them in charge of a friend, who conveyed them that night to Baltimore, a distance of forty miles, where they arrived in season for the early morning trains North, and in a few hours were out of danger.
Bitlis provided that any person aptenhoʻshall steal
Y the laws of Maryland, 1737, chapter 2, section 4,
“ who shall steal any negro or other slave, or who shall counsel, hire, aid, abet, or command any person or persons” to do so, “shall suffer death as a felon." The punishment has since been changed to imprisonment, for a term not less than seven nor more than twenty years.
1 Opinions of Attorneys-General, Vol. V.
Fourteen years later, by the act of 1751, chapter 14, section 10, it was provided, that, “if any free person shall entice and persuade any slave within this province to run away, and who shall actually run away, from the master, owner, or overseer, and be convicted thereof, by confession, or verdict of a jury upon an indictment or information, shall forfeit and pay the full value of such slave to the master or owner of such slave, to be levied by execution on the goods, chattels, lands, or tenements of the offender, and, in case of inability to pay the same, shall suffer one year's imprisonment without bail or mainprise."
Still later, by the act of 1796, chapter 67, section 19, “the transporting of any slave or any person held to service” from the State was made a distinct offence, for which the offender was liable in an action of damages, and also by indictment.
By the Act of Congress organizing the District of Columbia (February 27, 1801) it was declared, that “the laws of the State of Maryland, as they now exist, shall be and continue in force in that part of the said District which was ceded by that State to the United States, and by them accepted as aforesaid.” Under this provision, these ancient laws of Maryland are to this day of full force in the District of Columbia.
The facts to be considered are few. Messrs. Drayton and Sayres, on indictment and trial, under the act of 1737, for stealing slaves, were acquitted, the jury rendering a verdict of “ Not guilty.” Resort was then had to the statute of 1796, chapter 67, section 19, as follows.
“And be it enacted, That any person or persons, who shall hereafter be convicted of giving a pass to any slave, or per