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to point out any place in the Constitution of the United States where "Slavery" is mentioned, or where the word. "slave" can be found, and he could not do it.
MR. RUSK. That is evading the question. I asked the Senator to point out in the bill the clause where Slavery is mentioned. The bill proposes to protect officers of the United States, whom you appoint, in discharging their duties. If they are to be left unprotected, repeal your law.
MR. SUMNER. I respond to the Senator with all my heart, "Repeal your law." Yes, Sir, repeal the Fugitive Act, which now requires the support of supplementary legislation. Remove this ground of offence. And before I sit down, I hope to make that very motion. Meanwhile I evade no question propounded by the honorable Senator; but I do not consider it necessary to show that "Slavery" is mentioned in the bill. It may not be found there in name; but Slavery is the very soul of the bill.
[Mr. Rusk rose.
MR. SUMNER. The Senator has interrupted me several times; he may do it more; but perhaps he had better let me go on.
MR. RUSK. I understand the Senator; but I make no boast of that sort.
MR. SUMNER. Very well. At last I am allowed to proceed. Of the bill in question I have little to say. Its technical character has been exposed by various Senators, and especially by my valued friend from Ohio. [Mr. CHASE] who opened this debate. Suffice it to say, that it is an intrusive and offensive encroachment on State Rights, calculated to subvert the power of States in
the protection of the citizen. This consideration alone. would be ample to secure its rejection, if the attachment. to State Rights, so often avowed by Senators, were not utterly lost in stronger attachment to Slavery. But on these things, although well worthy of attention, I do not dwell. Objectionable as the bill may be on this ground, it becomes much more so when regarded as an effort to bolster up the Fugitive Slave Act.
Of this Act it is difficult to speak with moderation. Conceived in defiance of the Constitution, and in utter disregard of every sentiment of justice and humanity, it should be treated as an outlaw. It may have the form of legislation, but it lacks every essential element of law. I have so often exposed its character on this floor, that I shall be brief now.
There is an argument against it which has especial importance at this moment, when the Fugitive Act is made the occasion of new assault on State Rights. This very Act is an assumption by Congress of power not delegated to it under the Constitution, and an infraction of rights secured to the States. You will mark, if you please, the double aspect of this proposition, in asserting not only an assumption of power by Congress, but an infraction of State Rights. And this proposition, I venture to say, defies answer or cavil. Show me, Sir, if you can, the clause, sentence, or word in the Constitution which gives to Congress any power to legislate on this subject. I challenge honorable Senators to produce it. I fearlessly assert that it cannot be found. The obligations imposed by the "fugitive" clause, whatever they may be,1 rest upon States, and not upon Congress.
1 Here, as in other places, Mr. Sumner did not recognize that the language of the Constitution was applicable to "fugitive slaves.”
I do not now undertake to say what these obligations are, but simply, that, whether much or little, they rest upon States. And this interpretation is sustained by the practice of Congress on another kindred question. The associate clause touching "privileges of citizens" is never made a source of power. It will be in the recollection of the Senate, that, during the last session, the Senator from Louisiana [Mr. BENJAMIN], in answer to a question from me, openly admitted that there were laws of the Southern States, bearing hard upon colored citizens of the North, which were unconstitutional; but when I pressed the honorable Senator with the question, whether he would introduce or sustain a bill to carry out the clause of the Constitution securing to these citizens their rights, he declined to answer.
MR. BENJAMIN. I think, Mr. President, I have a right to set the record straight upon that point. I rose in the Senate on the occasion referred to, as will be perfectly well recollected by every Senator present, and put a respectful question to the Senator from Massachusetts. Instead of a reply to my question, he put a question to me, which I answered, and then I put my question. Instead of replying to that, he again put a question to me. Considering that as an absolute evasion of the question which I put to him, I declined having anything further to say in the dis
MR. SUMNER. The Senator from Louisiana will pardon me, if I suggest that there is an incontrovertible fact which shows that the evasion was on his part. The record testifies not only that he did not reply, but that I was cut off from replying by efforts and votes of himself and his friends. Let him consult the "Congres
sional Globe," and he will find it all there.1 I can conceive that it might be embarrassing for him to reply, since, had he declined to carry out the clause in question, it would be awkward, at least, to vindicate the Fugitive Slave Act, which is derived from an identical clause in the Constitution. And yet there are Senators on this floor, who, careless of the flagrant inconsistency, vindicate the exercise of power by Congress under the "fugitive" clause, while their own States at home. deny any power of Congress under the associate clause, on the "privileges of citizens," assume to themselves complete right to determine the obligations of this clause, and then, in practical illustration of their assumption, ruthlessly sell into Slavery colored citizens. of the North.
MR. BUTLER [interrupting]. Does the Senator allude to my State?
MR. RUSK. No, to mine.
MR. BUTLER. If he means South Carolina, I will reply to him.
MR. SUMNER. I do allude to South Carolina, and also to other Southern States, but especially to South Carolina. If I allude to these States, it is not to bring up and array the hardships of individual instances, but simply to show the position occupied by them on a constitutional question, identical with that in the Fugitive Act. And now, at the risk of repetition, if I can have your attention for a brief moment, without interruption, I will endeavor to state anew this argument.
The rules of interpretation, applicable to the clause of the Constitution securing to "the citizens of each State
1 Congressional Globe, 33d Cong. 1st Sess., July 18, 1854, Vol. XXVIII. pp. 1790-91.
all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States," are equally applicable to its associate clause, forming part of the same section, in the same article, and providing that "persons held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." Of this there can be no doubt.
If one of these clauses is regarded as a compact between the States, to be carried out by them respectively, according to their interpretation of its obligations, without intervention of Congress, then the other must be so regarded; nor can any legislative power be asserted of Congress under one clause which is denied under the other. This proposition cannot be questioned. Now mark the consequences.
Congress, in abstaining from all exercise of power under the first clause, when required to protect the liberty of colored citizens, while assuming power under the second clause, in order to obtain the surrender of fugitive slaves, shows an inconsistency, which becomes more monstrous when it is considered that in the one case the general and commanding interests of Liberty are neglected, while in the other the peculiar and subordinate interests of Slavery are carefully assured; and such an exercise of power is an alarming evidence of that influence of Slavery in the National Government which has increased, is increasing, and ought to be overthrown.
Looking more precisely at these two clauses, we arrive at the true conclusion. According to express words of the Constitution, in the Tenth Amendment, "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitu