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Still less has the petition of right, presented The articles of confederation contain nothing to Charles I., by the long Parliament, to do on the subject; whilst the actual constitution with the subject of civil slavery. It looked recognizes the legal existence of slavery by merely, as Magna Charta had not done before various provisions. The power of prohibiting it, to the freemen of England--and sought only the slave trade is involved in that of regulating to protect them against royal prerogative and commerce, but this is coupled with an express the encroaching spirit of the Stuarts.
inhibition to the exercise of it for twenty years. As to the bill of rights, enacted by the Con- How then can that constitution which expressly vention Parliament of 1688, it is almost a permits the importation of slaves, authorize duplicate of the petition of right, and arose the national government to set on foot a cruout of the recollection of that political tyranny sade against slavery? from which the nation had just escaped, and The clause respecting fugitive slaves is affirmthe recurrence of which it was intended to ative and active in its effects. It is a direct prevent. It contains no abstract principles. It sanction and positive protection of the right deals only with practical checks upon the of the master to the services of his slave as power of the monarch, and in safeguards for derived under the local laws of the States. institutions essential to the preservation of the The phraseology in which it is wrapped up still public liberty. That it was not designed to leaves the intention clear, and the words, anathematize civil slavery may be taken for “persons held to service or labor in one State granted, since at that epoch, and long after- under the laws thereof,” have always been wards, the English government inundated its interpreted to extend to the case of slaves, in foreign plantations with slaves, and supplied the various acts of Congress which have been other nations with them as merchandise, under passed to give efficacy to the provision, and in the sanction of solemn treaties negotiated for the judicial application of those laws. So also that purpose. And here I cannot forbear to in the clause prescribing the ratio of represenremark that we owe it to that same govern- tation—the phrase, “three-fifths of all other ment, when it stood towards us in the relation persons,” is equivalent to slaves, or it means of parent to child, that involuntary servitude nothing. And yet we are told that those who exists in our land, and that we are now deliber- are acting under a constitution which sanctions ating whether the prerogative of correcting its the existence of slavery in those States which evils belongs to the national or the State gov- choose to tolerate it, are at liberty to hold that ernments. In the early periods of our colonial no law can sanction its existence ! history, every thing was done by the mother It is idle to make the rightfulness of an act country to encourage the importation of slaves the measure of sovereign power. The distincinto North America, and the measures which tion between sovereign power and the moral were adopted by the Colonial Assemblies to right to exercise it, has always been recognized. prohibit it, were uniformly negatived by the All political power may be abused, but is it to crown. It is not therefore our fault, nor the stop where abuse may begin? The power of fault of our ancestors, that this calamity has declaring war is a power of vast capacity for been entailed upon us; and notwithstanding mischief, and capable of inflicting the most the ostentation with which the loitering aboli- wide-spread desolation. But it is given to tion of the slave trade by the British parlia- Congress without stint and without measure. ment has been vaunted, the principal consider- Is a citizen, or are the courts of justice to ation which at last reconciled it to that meas- inquire whether that, or any other law, is just, ure was, that by suitable care, the slave popu- before they obey or execute it? And are there lation in their West India islands (already fully any degrees of injustice which will withdraw stocked) might be kept up and even increased from sovereign power the capacity of making without the aid of importation. In a word, it a given law? was cold calculations of interest, and not the But sovereignty is said to be deputed power. suggestions of humanity, or a respect for the Deputed—by whom? By the people, because philanthropic principles of Mr. Wilberforce, the power is theirs. And if it be theirs, does which produced their tardy abandonment of not the restriction take it away? Examine the that abominable traffic.
constitution of the Union, and it will be seen of the declaration of our independence, that the people of the States are regarded as which has also been quoted in support of the well as the States themselves. The constituperilous doctrines now urged upon us, I need tion was made by the people, and ratified by not now speak at large. I have shown on a the people. former occasion how idle it is to rely upon Is it fit, then, to hold that all the sovereignty that instrument for such a purpose, and I will of a State is in the government of the State? not fatigue you by mere repetition. The self- So much is there as the people grant: and the evident truths announced in the declaration of people can take it away, or give more, or new independence are not truths at all, if taken model what they have already granted. It is literally; and the practical conclusions con- this right which the proposed restriction takes tained in the same passage of that declaration from Missouri. You give them an immortal prove that they were never designed to be so constitution, depending on your will, not on received.
theirs. The people and their posterity are to be bound for ever by this restriction; and another and a different act in its place. The upon the same principle, any other restriction proposition contained in the clause is universal may be imposed. Where then is their power in one sense only. It is particular in another. to change the constitution, and to devolve new It is universal as to the power to admit or sovereignty upon the State government? You refuse. It is particular as to the being or thing limit their sovereign capacity to do it; and to be admitted, and the compact by which it is when you talk of a State, you mean the people to be admitted. The sophistry consists in exas well as the government. The people are the tending the universal part of the proposition source of all power—you dry up that source. in such a manner as to make out of it another They are the reservoir—you take out of it universal proposition. It consists in confoundwhat suits you.
ing the right to produce or to refuse to produce It is said that this government is a govern- a certain defined effect, with a right to produce ment of deputed powers. So is every govern- a different effect by refusing otherwise to proment-and what power is not deputed remains. duce any effect at all. It makes the actual But the people of the United States can give it right the instrument of obtaining another right more if they please, as the people of each with which the actual right is incompatible. State can do in respect to its own government. It makes, in a word, lawful power the instruAnd here it is well to remember that this is a ment of unlawful usurpation. The result is government of enumerated, as well as deputed kept out of sight by this mode of reasoning. powers, and to examine the clause as to the The discretion to declino that result, which is admission of new States, with that principle in called a universal proposition, is singly obtruded view. Now assume that it is a part of the upon us. But in order to reason correctly, you sovereign power of the people of Missouri to must keep in view the defined result, as well as continue slavery, and to devolve that power the discretion to produce or to decline to proapon its government—and then to take it away duce it. The result is the particular part of —and then to give it again. The government the proposition; therefore, the discretion to is their creature—the means of exercising their produce or decline it, is the universal part of sovereignty, and they can vary those means at it. But because the last is found to be univertheir pleasure. Independently of the Union, sal, it is taken for granted that the first is also their power would be unlimited. By coming universal. This is a sophism too manifest to into the Union, they part with some of it, and impose. are thus less sovereign.
But discarding the machinery of syllogisms Let us then see whether they part with this as unfit for such a discussion as this, let us look power.
at the clause with a view of interpreting it by If they have parted with this portion of the rules of sound logic and common sense. sovereign power, it must be under that clause The power is “to admit new States into this of the national constitution which gives to Union;" and it may be safely conceded that Congress "power to admit new States into this here is discretion to admit or refuse. The Union." And it is said that this necessarily question is, what must we do if we do any implies the authority of prescribing the condi- thing? What must we admit, and into what? tions, upon which such“ new States shall be The answer is a State—and into this Union. admitted. This has been put into the form of The distinction between federal rights and a syllogism which is thus stated :
local rights, is an idle distinction. Because the Major. Every universal proposition includes new State acquires federal rights, it is not, all the means, manner, and terms of the act to therefore, in this Union. The Union is a comwhich it relates.
pact; and is it an equal party to that compact, Minor. But this is a universal proposition. because it has equal federal rights ?
Conclusion. Therefore, the means, manner, How is the Union formed ? By equal contriand terms are involved in it.
butions of power. Make one member sacrifice But this syllogism is fallacions, and any thing more than another, and it becomes unequal. else may be proved by it, by assuming one of The compact is of two parts, its members which involves the conclusion. 1. The thing obtained-federal rights. The minor is a mere postulate.
2. The price paid—local sovereignty. Take it in this way:
You may disturb the balance of the Union, Major. None but a universal proposition in either by diminishing the thing acquired, or cludes in itself the terms and conditions of the increasing the sacrifice paid. act to be done.
What were the purposes of coming into the Minor. But this is not such a universal propo- Union among the original States? The States sition.
were originally sovereign without limit, as to Conclusion. Therefore, it does not contain in foreign and domestic concerns. But being initself the terms and conditions of the act. capable of protecting themselves singly, they
In both cases the minor is a gratuitous pos- entered into the Union to defend themselves tulate.
against foreign violence. The domestic conBut I deny that a universal proposition as to cerns of the people were not, in general, to be a specific act, involves the terms and conditions acted on by it. The security of the power, of of that act, so as to vary it, and substitute managing them by domestio legislature, is ono
of the great objects of the Union. The Union treated with that decent neglect which has at is a means, not an end. By requiring greater least the merit of forbearing to render contusacrifices of domestic power, the end is sacri- macy obtrusive by an ostentatious display of ficed to the means. Suppose the surrender of the very duty which we in part abandon. If all, or nearly all, the domestic powers of legis- the decalogue could be observed in this casuislation were required; the means would there tical manner, we might be grievous sinners, have swallowed up the end.
and yet be liable to no reproach. We might The argument that the compact may be en- persist in all our habitual irregularities, and forced, shows that the federal predicament is still be spotless. We might, for example, conchanged. The power of the Union not only tinue to covet our neighbors' goods, provided acts on persons or citizens, but on the faculty they were the same neighbors whose goods we of the government, and restrains it in a way had before coveted—and so of all the other which the constitution no where authorizes. commandments. This new obligation takes away a right which Will the gentlemen tell us that it is the is expressly “reserved to the people or the quantity of slaves, not the quality of slavery, States," since it is no where granted to the which takes from a government the republican government of the Union. You cannot do in- form? Will they tell us (for they have not yet directly what you cannot do directly. It is said told us) that there are constitutional grounds that this Union is competent to make compacts. (to say nothing of common sense) upon which Who doubts it? But can you make this com- the slavery which now exists in Missouri may pact? I insist that you cannot make it, because be reconciled with a republican form of govit is repugnant to the thing to be done. ernment, while any addition to the number of
The effect of such a compact would be to its slaves (the quality of slavery remaining the produce that inequality in the Union, to which same) from the other States, will be repugnant the constitution, in all its provisions, is adverse. to that form, and metamorphose it into some Every thing in it looks to equality among the nondescript government disowned by the conmembers of the Union. Under it, you cannot stitution? They cannot have recourse to the produce inequality. Nor can you get before- treaty of 1803 for such a distinction, since inhand of the constitution, and do it by anticipa- dependently of what I have before observed on tion. Wait until a State is in the Union, and that head, the gentlemen have contended that you cannot do it: yet it is only upon the State the treaty has nothing to do with the matter. in the Union that what you do begins to act. They have cut themselves off from all chance
of a convenient distinction in or out of that But it seems, that although the proposed treaty, by insisting that slavery beyond the old restriction may not be justified by the clause United States is rejected by the constitution, of the constitution which gives power to admit and by the law of God as discoverable by the new States into the Union, separately consid- aid of either reason or revelation; and moreered, there are other parts of the constitution over that the treaty does not include the case, which, combined with that clause, will warrant and if it did could not make it better. They it. And first, we are informed that there is a have therefore completely discredited their own clause in this instrument which declares that theory by their own practice, and left us no Congress shall guarantee to every State a re- theory worthy of being seriously controverted. publican form of government; that slavery This peculiarity in reasoning of giving out a and such a form of government are incompati- universal principle, and coupling with it a praoble; and finally, as a conclusion from these tical concession that it is wholly fallacious, has premises, that Congress not only have a right, indeed run through the greater part of the but are bound to exclude slavery from a new arguments on the other side; but it is not, as I State. Here again, sir, there is an edifying in- think, the more imposing on that account, or consistency between the argument and the the less liable to the criticism which I have measure which it professes to vindicate. By here bestowed upon it. the argument it is maintained that Missouri There is a remarkable inaccuracy on this cannot have a republican form of government, branch of the subject into which the gentlemen and at the same time tolerate negro slavery. have fallen, and to which I will give a moBy the measure it is admitted that Missouri ment's attention without laying unnecessary may tolerate slavery, as to persons already in stress upon it. The government of a new State, bondage there, and be nevertheless fit to be as well as of an old State, must, I agree, be rereceived into the Union. What sort of consti- publican in its form. But it has not been very tutional mandate is this which can thus be clearly explained what the laws which such a made to bend, and truckle, and compromise as government may enact can have to do with its if it were a simple rule of expediency that form. The form of the government is material might admit of exceptions upon motives of only as it furnishes a security that those laws countervailing expediency. There can be no will protect and promote the public happiness, such pliancy in the peremptory provisions of and be made in a republican spirit The people the constitution. They cannot be obeyed by being, in such a government, the fountain of all moieties and violated in the same ratio. They power, and their servants being periodically must be followed out to their full extent, or responsible to them for its exercise, the consti
tution of the Union takes for granted, (except | fundamental laws of Lycurgus, having for its so far as it imposes limitations,) that every such object the encouragement of that very spirit. exercise will be just and salutary. The intro- Attica was full of slaves—yet the love of liberduction or continuance of civil slavery is mani- ty was its characteristic. What else was it that festly the mere result of the power of making foiled the whole power of Persia at Marathon laws. It does not in any degree enter into the and Salamis ? What other soil than that which form of the government. It presupposes that the genial sun of republican freedom illumiform already settled, and takes its rise not from nated and warmed, could have produced such the particular frame of the government, but men as Leonidas and Miltiades, Themistocles from the general power which every govern- and Epaminondas? Of Rome it would be sument involves. Make the government what perfluous to speak at large. It is sufficient to you will in its organization and in the distri- name the mighty mistress of the world, before bution of its authorities, the introduction or Sylla gave the first stab to her liberties and the continuance of involuntary servitude by the great dictator accomplished their final ruin, to legislative power which it has created can have be reminded of the practicability of union beno influence on its pre-established form, whether tween civil slavery and an ardent love of libmonarchical, aristocratical, or republican. The erty cherished by republican establishments. form of government is still one thing, and the if we return home for instruction upon this law, being a simple exertion of the ordinary point, we perceive that same union exemplified faculty of legislation by those to whom that in many a State, in which “liberty has a temform of government has intrusted it, another. ple in every house, an altar in every heart," The gentlemen, however, identify an act of while involuntary servitude is seen in every dilegislation sanctioning involuntary servitude rection. Is it denied that those States possess with the form of government itself, and then a republican form of government? If it is, assure us that the last is changed retroactively why does our power of correction sleep? Why by the first, and is no longer republican! is the constitutional guaranty suffered to be in
But let us proceed to take a rapid glance at active? Why am I permitted to fatigue you, the reasons which have been assigned for this as the representative of a slaveholding State, notion that involuntary servitude and a repub- with the discussion of the “nugæ canoræ lican form of government are perfect antipa- (for so I think them) that have been forced into thies. The gentleman from New Hampshire* this debate contrary to all the remonstrances has defined a republican government to be that of taste and prudence? Do gentlemen perceive in which all the men participate in its power the consequences to which their arguments and privileges: from whence it follows that must lead if they are of any value? Do they where there are slaves, it can have no existence. reflect that they lead to emancipation in the A definition is no proof, however, and even if old United States—or to an exclusion of Delait be dignified (as I think it was) with the name ware, Maryland, and all the South, and a great of a maxim, the matter is not much mended. portion of the West from the Union ? My It is Lord Bacon who says “that nothing is so honorable friend from Virginia has no business easily made as a maxim;" and certainly a here, if this disorganizing creed be any thing definition is manufactured with equal facility, but the production of a heated brain. The A political maxim is the work of induction, and State to which I belong, must "perform a luscannot stand against experience, or stand on tration ”—must purge and purify herself from any thing but experience. But this maxim, or the feculence of civil slavery, and emulate the definition, or whatever else it may be, sets fact States of the North in their zeal for throwing at defiance. If you go back to antiquity, you down the gloomy idol which we are said to will obtain no countenance for this hypothesis; worship, before her senators can have any title and if you look at home you will gain still less. to appear in this high assembly. It will be in I have read that Sparta, and Rome, and Athens, vain to urge that the old United States are exand many others of the ancient family, were ceptions to the rule—or rather (as the gentlerepublics. They were so in form undoubtedly men express it), that they have no disposition -the last approaching nearer to a perfect to apply the rule to them. There can be no democracy than any other government which exceptions by implication only, to such a rule; has yet been known in the world. Judging of and expressions which justify the exemption of them also by their fruits, they were of the the old States by inference, will justify the like highest order of republics. Sparta could exemption of Missouri, unless they point exscarcely be any other than a republic, when a clusively to them, as I have shown they do not. Spartan matron could say to her son just march. The guarded manner, too, in which some of ing to battle, “ Return victorious, or return no the gentlemen have occasionally expressed more.” It was the unconquerable spirit of themselves on this subject, is somewhat alarmliberty, nurtured by republican habits and in- ing. They have no disposition to meddle with stitutions, that illustrated the pass of Ther- slavery in the old United States. Perhaps not mopylæ.' Yet slavery was not only tolerated —but who shall answer for their successors ? in Sparta, but was established by one of the Who shall furnish a pledge that the principle
once ingrafted into the constitution, will not * Mr. Morril.
grow, and spread, and fructify, and overshadow the whole land? It is the natural office of such / unit. Who does not see that such conclusions a principle to wrestle with slavery, whereso-flow from false notions—that the true theory ever it finds it. New States, colonized by the of a republican government is mistaken—and apostles of this principle, will enable it to set that in such a government rights, political and on foot a fanatical crusade against all who still civil, may be qualified by the fundamental law, continue to tolerate it, although no practicable upon such inducements as the freemen of the means are pointed out by which they can get country deem sufficient? That civil rights may rid of it consistently with their own safety. be qualified as well as political, is proved by a At any rate, a present forbearing disposition, thousand examples. Minors, resident aliens, in a few or in many, is not a security upon who are in a course of naturalization—the which much reliance can be placed upon a sub- other sex, whether maids, or wives, or widows, ject as to which so many selfish interests and furnish sufficient practical proofs of this. ardent feelings are connected with the cold cal- Again—if we are to entertain these hopeful culations of policy. Admitting, however, that abstractions, and to resolve all establishments the old United States are in no danger from into their imaginary elements in order to recast this principle—why is it so? There can be no them upon some Utopian plan, and if it be true other answer (which these zealous enemies of that all the men in a republican government slavery can use) than that the constitution must help to wield its power, and be equal in recognizes slavery as existing or capable of rights, I beg leave to ask the honorable gentle
I existing in those States. The constitution, then, man from New Hampshire and why not all admits that slavery and a republican form of the women? They too are God's creatures, government are not incongruous. It associates and not only very fair but very rational creaand binds them up together, and repudiates tures; and our great ancestor, if we are to give this wild imagination which the gentlemen credit to Milton, accounted them the "wisest, have pressed upon us with such an air of virtuousest, discreetest, best;" although to say triumph. But the constitution does more, as the truth he had but one specimen from which I have heretofore proved. It concedes that to draw his conclusion, and possibly if he had slavery may exist in a new State, as well as in had more, would not have drawn it at all. an old one-since the language in which it They have, moreover, acknowledged civil rights recognizes slavery comprehends new States as in abundance, and upon abstract principles well as actual. I trust then that I shall be more than their masculine rulers allow them in forgiven if I suggest, that no eccentricity in fact. Some monarchies, too, do not exclude argument can be more trying to human patience, them from the throne. We have all read of than a formal assertion that a constitution, to Elizabeth of England, of Catharine of Russia, which slave-holding States were the most nu- of Semiramis, and Zenobia, and a long list of merous parties, in which slaves are treated as royal and imperial dames, about as good as an property as well as persons, and provision is equal list of royal and imperial lords. Why is inade for the security of that property, and it that their exclusion from the power of a even for an augmentation of it by a temporary popular government is not destructive of its importation from Africa, a clause cor nding republican character? I do not address this Congress to guarantee a republican form of gov- question to the honorable gentleman's gallantry, ernment to those very States, as well as to but to his abstraction, and his theories, and his others, authorizes you to determine that slavery notions of the infinite perfectibility of human and a republican form of government cannot institutions, borrowed from Godwin and the co-exist.
turbulent philosophers of France. For my own But if a republican form of government is part, sir, if I may have leave to say so much in that in which all the men have a share in the the presence of this mixed uncommon audipublic power, the slave-holding States will not ence, I confess I am no friend to female governalone retire from the Union. The constitutions ment, unless indeed it be that which reposes of some of the other States do not sanction on gentleness, and modesty and virtue, and universal suffrage, or universal eligibility. They feminine grace and delicacy--and how powerrequire citizenship, and age, and a certain ful a government that is, we have all of us, as amount of property, to give a title to vote or I suspect, at some time or other experienced ! to be voted for; and they who have not those But if the ultra republican doctrines which qualifications are just as much disfranchised, have now been broached should ever gain with regard to the government and its power, ground among us, I should not be surprised if as if they were slaves. They have civil rights some romantic reformer, treading in the footindeed (and so have slaves in a less degree;) steps of Mrs. Wolstoncraft, should propose to but they have no share in the government. repeal our republican law salique, and claim Their province is to obey the laws, not to assist for our wives and daughters a full participation in making them. All such States must there in political power, and to add to it that domesfore be forisfamiliated with Virginia and the tic power, which in some families, as I have rest, or change their system: For the consti- heard, is as absolute and unrepublican as any tution being absolutely silent on those subjects, power can be. will afford them no protection. The Union I have thus far allowed the honorable genmight thus be reduced from an Union to an | tlemen to avail themselves of their assumption