Слике страница
PDF
ePub

which is added, seems to imply that such is its signification. If it referred to an absolute, in dispensable necessity, the word "proper" would be without

any

force. It is affirmed that the intention of the constitution cannot be to place the government under a system barely suffi. cient to support its existence, allowing it none of the conveniences requisite for its easy and efficient operation. The Secretary of State, Mr. Jefferson, and the Attorney-general, when the question was discussed in the cabinet of President Washington, were in favor of the first mentioned opinion. President Washing. ton, after deliberation, was in favor of the last mentioned. It was subsequently decided by the supreme court of the United States, that this latter signification is the true one. Differ. ent opinions are, however, still entertained on this point.

Sec. 9. It is said in this section that congress shall not prohibit the migration or im. portation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, prior

year 1808; to what persons is reference made ? Ans. To slaves. What was the rate of the tax which might be laid on such importation? When did congress first pro.

to the

hibit the importation of slaves ?. Ans. Their first act for this purpose, was passed March 2d, 1807, and it went into operation January 1st, 1808.

Remark. By acts of March 22d, 1794, and May 10th, 1800, citizens of the United States and residents therein, were prohibited from engaging in the slave trade, except for the mere purpose of importing slaves directly into the United States.

What is meant by the writ of habeas corpus ? Ans. It is a writ granted by a judge on complaint made to him directing any officer or person holding another in custody or imprisonment, except in certain cases specified by the law, to bring such person immediately before him, that the cause of the detention or impris. onment may be examined into, and if found to be insufficient, that the person detained or im. prisoned may be set at liberty. What is the meaning of the words habeas corpus ? Ans. They signify you must have the body forthcoming. They express the order of the judge to the person having the prisoner in charge. The constitution declares that the privilege of this writ shall not be suspended except in certain cases; what are those cases ?

Remark. The writ of habeas corpus is regarded as one of the great bulwarks of English liberty.

Provision was first made for effectually securing its privileges in the reign of King Charles II. by the act of parliament called the habeas corpus ac', which is the basis of the habeas corpus law in the United States. When we reflect upon the arbitrary and despotic imprisonment of thousands of individuals on the continent of Europe, at the mere will of sovereigns, without any legal proceed. ings, we perceive something of the unspeakable privileges of the English and American people. The very name of the BASTILE in France, is a most impressive comment upon the nature of the privilege which the habeas corpus law secures. “ I have been assured," says Sir William Blackstone, " that during the mild administration of Cardinal Fleury, above 54000 lettres de cachet (secret orders in the name of the king, for the arrest and imprison. ment of persons without trial or any form of law,) were issued upon the single ground of the famous bull unigenitus. Persons arrested by this writ, sometimes lay in prison twenty, thirty, and even forty years without trial. France, however, no longer endures such a detestable

system of tyranny. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus may be suspended in England, by act of parliament in the same cases in which it may be suspended in this country.

The constitution declares that no bill of at. tainder, or ex post facto law shall be passed; what is attainder ? Ans. It is a forfeiture of the estate of a person condemned for certain crimes, and the rendering himself incapable of inheriting any estate, and his children or any others incapable of inheriting either from or through him. In the language of the law, it blots out all the inheritable qualities of the blood.

Remark. Attainders in England used to be very frequent. Their operation, reducing the innocent children of the person attainted to poverty, and cutting them off from inheriting any property from others through their father, came to be regarded as a very great hardship, and several statutes were made to modify its severity. The people of the United States, to prevent by one single act, the passing of laws so contrary to reason and to the law of na. ture, inserted an unqualified prohibition of them in the constitution.

What is an ex post facto law? Ans. It is

one which renders an act punishable in a man. ner in which it was not punishable when it was committed.

Remark. The Latin words ex post facto, signify, by something done afterwards. The monstrous injustice and tyranny of such laws is too manifest to require any comment. If such laws were allowed, who could be safe? An act, virtuous when done, might become a crime, and subject its author to punishment.

The constitution prohibits the laying of any capitation or other direct tax, except in proportion to the census; what is a capitation tax? Ans. A tax upon the poll or head in distinction from a tax upon property.

Remark. Each state being represented in the popular branch of the government, accord. ing to the census, it was deemed proper upon the principle that representation and taxation go together, that direct taxes should be laid upon

the same plan. Those who have the greatest share in the government, should pay most for its support, was the doctrine.

It having been provided in Sec. 2, of this article, that representatives and direct taxes should be apportioneds among the states, according to the number of inhabitants, it is now

« ПретходнаНастави »