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The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 1 of 4 by American Anti-Slavery Society

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on the motion to print Mr. Pinckney's Report, is thus reported in the
Washington Globe, of May 9th, '36. "He replied to the remark that the
report conceded that Congress had a right to legislate upon the subject
in the District of Columbia, and said that SUCH A RIGHT HAD NEVER BEEN,

The American Quarterly Review, published at Philadelphia, with a large
circulation and list of contributors in the slave states, holds the
following language in the September No. 1833, p. 55: "Under this
'exclusive jurisdiction,' granted by the constitution, Congress has
power to abolish slavery and the slave trade in the District of
Columbia. It would hardly be necessary to state this as a distinct
proposition, had it not been occasionally questioned. The truth of the
assertion, however, is too obvious to admit of argument--and we believe


We now proceed to notice briefly the main arguments that have been
employed in Congress, and elsewhere against the power of Congress to
abolish slavery in the District. One of the most plausible is; that "the
conditions on which Maryland and Virginia ceded the District to the
United States, would be violated, if Congress should abolish slavery
there." The reply to this is, that Congress had no power to _accept_ a
cession coupled with conditions restricting that "power of exclusive
legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District," which was
given it by the constitution.

To show the futility of the objection, we insert here the acts of
cession. The cession of Maryland was made in November, 1788, and is as
follows: "An act to cede to Congress a district of ten miles square in
this state for the seat of the government of the United States."

"Be it enacted, by the General Assembly of Maryland, that the
representatives of this state in the House of Representatives of the
Congress of the United States, appointed to assemble at New-York, on the
first Wednesday of March next, be, and they are hereby authorized and
required on the behalf of this state, to cede to the Congress of the
United States, any district in this state, not exceeding ten miles
square, which the Congress may fix upon, and accept for the seat of
government of the United States." Laws of Md., v. 2., c. 46.

The cession of Virginia was made on the 3d of December, 1788, in the
following words:

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That a tract of country, not
exceeding ten miles square, or any lesser quantity, to be located within
the limits of the State, and in any part thereof, as Congress may, by
law, direct, shall be, and the same is hereby forever ceded and
relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, in
full and absolute right, and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil, as
of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and
effect of the eighth section of the first article of the government of
the constitution of the United States."

But were there no provisos to these acts? The Maryland act had _none_.
The Virginia act had this proviso: "Sect. 2. Provided, that nothing
herein contained, shall be construed to vest in the United States any
right of property in the soil, or to affect the rights of individuals
_therein_, otherwise than the same shall or may be transferred by such
individuals to the United States."

This specification touching the soil was merely definitive and
explanatory of that clause in the act of cession, "_full and absolute
right_." Instead of restraining the power of Congress on _slavery_ and
other subjects, it even gives it freer course; for exceptions to _parts_
of a rule, give double confirmation to those parts not embraced in the
exceptions. If it was the _design_ of the proviso to restrict
congressional action on the subject of _slavery_, why is the _soil
alone_ specified? As legal instruments are not paragons of economy in
words, might not "John Doe," out of his abundance, and without spoiling
his style, have afforded an additional word--at least a hint--that
slavery was _meant_, though nothing was _said_ about it?

But again, Maryland and Virginia, in their acts of cession, declare them
to be "in pursuance of" that clause of the constitution which gives to
Congress "exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over" the ten
miles square--thus, instead of _restricting_ that clause, both States
_confirm_ it. Now, their acts of cession either accorded with that
clause of the constitution, or they conflicted with it. If they
conflicted with it, _accepting_ the cessions was a violation of the
constitution. The fact that Congress accepted the cessions, proves that
in its view their _terms_ did not conflict with its constitutional grant
of power. The inquiry whether these acts of cession were consistent or
inconsistent with the United States' constitution, is totally irrelevant
to the question at issue. What saith the CONSTITUTION? That is the
question. Not, what saith Virginia, or Maryland, or--equally to the
point--John Bull! If Maryland and Virginia had been the authorized
interpreters of the constitution for the Union, these acts of cession
could hardly have been magnified more than they have been recently by
the southern delegation in Congress. A true understanding of the
constitution can be had, forsooth, only by holding it up in the light of
Maryland and Virginia legislation!

We are told, again, that those States would not have ceded the District
if they had supposed the constitution gave Congress power to abolish
slavery in it.

This comes with an ill grace from Maryland and Virginia. They _knew_ the
constitution. They were parties to it. They had sifted it clause by
clause, in their State conventions. They had weighed its words in the
balance--they had tested them as by fire; and finally, after long
pondering, they _adopted_ the constitution. And _afterward_, self-moved,
they ceded the ten miles square, and declared the cession made "in
pursuance of" that oft-cited clause, "Congress shall have power to
exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such
District." And now verily "they would not have ceded if they had
_supposed_!" &c. Cede it they _did_, and in "full and absolute right
both of soil and persons." Congress accepted the cession--state power
over the District ceased, and congressional power over it commenced--and
now, the sole question to be settled is, _the amount of power over the
District, lodged in Congress by the constitution_. The constitution--THE
CONSTITUTION--that is the point. Maryland and Virginia "suppositions"
must be potent suppositions to abrogate a clause of the United States'
Constitution! That clause either gives Congress power to abolish slavery
in the District, or it does _not_--and that point is to be settled, not
by state "suppositions," nor state usages, nor state legislation, but
_by the terms of the clause themselves_.

Southern members of Congress, in the recent discussions, have conceded
the power of a contingent abolition in the District, by suspending it
upon the _consent_ of the people. Such a doctrine from _declaimers_ like
Messrs. Alford, of Georgia, and Walker, of Mississippi, would excite no
surprise; but that it should be honored with the endorsement of such men
as Mr. Rives and Mr. Calhoun, is quite unaccountable. Are attributes of
_sovereignty_ mere creatures of _contingency_? Is delegated _authority_
mere conditional _permission_? Is a _constitutional power_ to be
exercised by those who hold it, only by popular _sufferance?_ Must it
lie helpless at the pool of public sentiment, waiting the gracious
troubling of its waters? Is it a lifeless corpse, save only when popular
"consent" deigns to puff breath into its nostrils? Besides, if the
consent of the people of the District be necessary, the consent of the
_whole_ people must be had--not that of a majority, however large.
Majorities, to be authoritative, must be _legal_--and a legal majority
without legislative power, or right of representation, or even the
electoral franchise, would be truly an anomaly! In the District of
Columbia, such a thing as a majority in a legal sense is unknown to law.
To talk of the power of a majority, or the will of a majority there, is
mere mouthing. A majority? Then it has an authoritative will--and an
organ to make it known--and an executive to carry it into effect--Where
are they? We repeat it--if the consent of the people of the District be
necessary, the consent of _every one_ is necessary--and _universal_
consent will come only with the Greek Kalends and a "perpetual motion."
A single individual might thus _perpetuate_ slavery in defiance of the
expressed will of a whole people. The most common form of this fallacy
is given by Mr. Wise, of Virginia, in his speech, February 16, 1835, in
which he denied the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the
District, unless the inhabitants owning slaves petitioned for it!!
Southern members of Congress at the present session ring changes almost
daily upon the same fallacy. What! pray Congress _to use_ a power which
it _has not_? "It is required of a man according to what he _hath_,"
saith the Scripture. I commend Mr. Wise to Paul for his ethics. Would
that he had got his _logic_ of him! If Congress does not possess the
power, why taunt it with its weakness, by asking its exercise? Why mock
it by demanding impossibilities? Petitioning, according to Mr. Wise, is,
in matters of legislation, omnipotence itself; the very _source_ of all
constitutional power; for, _asking_ Congress to do what it _cannot_ do,
gives it the power--to pray the exercise of a power that is _not,
creates_ it. A beautiful theory! Let us work it both ways. If to
petition for the exercise of a power that is _not_, creates it--to
petition against the exercise of a power that _is_, annihilates it. As
southern gentlemen are partial to summary processes, pray, sirs, try the
virtue of your own recipe on "exclusive legislation in all cases
whatsoever;" a better subject for experiment and test of the
prescription could not be had. But if the petitions of the citizens of
the District give Congress the _right_ to abolish slavery, they impose
the _duty_; if they confer constitutional _authority_, they create
constitutional _obligation_. If Congress _may_ abolish because of an
expression of their will, it _must_ abolish at the bidding of that will.
If the people of the District are a _source of power_ to Congress, their
_expressed_ will has the force of a constitutional provision, and has
the same binding power upon the National Legislature. To make Congress
dependent on the District for authority, is to make it a _subject_ of
its authority, restraining the exercise of its own discretion, and
sinking it into a mere organ of the District's will. We proceed to
another objection.

"_The southern states would not have ratified the constitution, if they
had supposed that it gave this power._" It is a sufficient answer to
this objection, that the northern states would not have ratified it, if
they had supposed that it _withheld_ the power. If "suppositions" are to
take the place of the constitution--coming from both sides, they
neutralize each other. To argue a constitutional question by _guessing_
at the "suppositions" that might have been made by the parties to it,
would find small favor in a court of law. But even a desperate shift is
some easement when sorely pushed. If this question is to be settled by
"suppositions" suppositions shall be forthcoming, and that without

First, then, I affirm that the North ratified the constitution,
"supposing" that slavery had begun to wax old, and would speedily vanish
away, and especially that the abolition of the slave trade, which by the
constitution was to be surrendered to Congress after twenty years, would
cast it headlong.

Would the North have adopted the constitution, giving three-fifths of
the "slave property" a representation, if it had "supposed" that the
slaves would have increased from half a million to two millions and a
half by 1838--and that the census of 1840 would give to the slave states
thirty representatives of "slave property?"

If they had "supposed" that this representation would have controlled
the legislation of the government, and carried against the North every
question vital to its interests, would Hamilton, Franklin, Sherman,
Gerry, Livingston, Langdon, and Rufus King have been such madmen, as to
sign the constitution, and the Northern States such suicides as to
ratify it? Every self-preserving instinct would have shrieked at such an
infatuate immolation. At the adoption of the United States constitution,
slavery was regarded as a fast waning system. This conviction was
universal. Washington, Jefferson, Henry, Grayson, Tucker, Madison,
Wythe, Pendleton, Lee, Blair, Mason, Page, Parker, Randolph, Iredell,
Spaight, Ramsey, Pinkney, Martin, McHenry, Chase, and nearly all the
illustrious names south of the Potomac, proclaimed it before the sun. A
reason urged in the convention that formed the United States
constitution, why the word slave should not be used in it, was, that
_when slavery should cease_, there might remain upon the National
Charter no record that it had ever been. (See speech of Mr. Burrill, of
R.I., on the Missouri question.)

I now proceed to show by testimony, that at the date of the United
States constitution, and for several years before and after that period,
slavery was rapidly on the wane; that the American Revolution with the
great events preceding, accompanying, and following it, had wrought an
immense and almost universal change in the public sentiment of the
nation on the subject, powerfully impelling it toward the entire
abolition of the system--and that it was the _general belief_ that
measures for its abolition throughout the Union, would be commenced by
the individual States generally before the lapse of many years. A great
mass of testimony establishing this position might be presented, but
narrow space, and the importance of speedy publication, counsel brevity.
Let the following proofs suffice. First, a few dates as points of

The first _general_ Congress met in 1774. The revolutionary war
commenced in '75. Independence was declared in '76. The articles of
confederation were adopted by the thirteen states in '78. Independence
acknowledged in '83. The convention for forming the U.S. constitution
was held in '87, the state conventions for considering it in '87, and
'88. The first Congress under the constitution in '89.

Dr. Rush, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence, in a letter to Granville Sharpe, May 1, 1773, says "A
spirit of humanity and religion begins to awaken in several of the
colonies in favor of the poor negroes. Great events have been brought
about by small beginnings. _Anthony Benezet stood alone a few years ago
in opposing negro slavery in Philadelphia_, and NOW THREE-FOURTHS OF THE
Sharpe, p. 21.]

In the preamble to the act prohibiting the importation of slaves into
Rhode Island, June, 1774, is the following: "Whereas the inhabitants of
America are generally engaged in the preservation of their own rights
and liberties, among which that of personal freedom must be considered
the greatest, and as those who are desirous of enjoying all the
advantages of liberty themselves, _should be willing to extend personal
liberty to others_, therefore," &c.

October 20, 1774, the Continental Congress passed the following: "We,
for ourselves and the inhabitants of the several colonies whom we
represent, _firmly agree and associate under the sacred ties of virtue,
honor, and love of our country_, as follows:

"2d Article. We _will neither import nor purchase any slaves imported_
after the first day of December next, after which time we will _wholly
discontinue_ the slave trade, and we will neither be concerned in it
ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or
manufactures to those who are concerned in it."

The Continental Congress, in 1775, setting forth the causes and the
necessity for taking up arms, say: "_If it were possible_ for men who
exercise their reason to believe that the divine Author of our existence
intended a part of the human race to _hold an absolute property in, and
unbounded power over others_," &c.

In 1776, Dr. Hopkins, then at the head of New England divines, in "An
Address to the owners of negro slaves in the American colonies," says:
"The conviction of the unjustifiableness of this practice (slavery) has
been _increasing_, and _greatly spreading of late_, and _many_ who have
had slaves, have found themselves so unable to justify their own conduct
in holding them in bondage, as to be induced to _set them at liberty_. *
* * * Slavery is, _in every instance_, wrong, unrighteous,
and oppressive--a very great and crying sin--_there being nothing of the
kind equal to it on the face of the earth._"

The same year the American Congress issued a solemn MANIFESTO to the
world. These were its first words: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." _Once_, these were words
of power; _now_, "a rhetorical flourish."

The celebrated Patrick Henry of Virginia, in a letter, of Jan. 18, 1773,
to Robert Pleasants, afterwards president of the Virginia Abolition
Society, says: "Believe me, I shall honor the Quakers for their noble
efforts to abolish slavery. It is a debt we owe to the purity of our
religion to show that it is at variance with that law that warrants
slavery. I exhort you to persevere in so worthy a resolution."

In 1779, the Continental Congress ordered a pamphlet to be published,
entitled, "Observations on the American Revolution," from which the
following is an extract: "The great principle (of government) is and
ever will remain in force, _that men are by nature free_; and so long as
we have any idea of divine _justice_, we must associate that of _human
freedom_. It is _conceded on all hands, that the right to be free_ CAN

Extract from the Pennsylvania act for the abolition of slavery, passed
March 1, 1780: * * "We conceive that it is our duty, and we rejoice
that it is in our power, to extend a portion of that freedom to others
which has been extended to us. Weaned by a long course of experience
from those narrow prejudices and partialities we had imbibed, we find
our hearts enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards men of all
conditions and nations: * * * Therefore be it enacted, that no
child born hereafter be a slave," &c.

Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, written just before the close of
the Revolutionary War, says: "I think a change already perceptible since
the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is
abating, that of the slave is rising from the dust, his condition
mollifying, _the way I hope preparing under the auspices of heaven_, FOR

In a letter to Dr. Price, of London, who had just published a pamphlet
in favor of the abolition of slavery, Mr. Jefferson, then minister at
Paris, (August 7, 1785,) says: "From the mouth to the head of the
Chesapeake, _the bulk of the people will approve of your pamphlet in
theory_, and it will find a respectable minority ready to _adopt it in
practice_--a minority which, for weight and worth of character,
_preponderates against the greater number_." Speaking of Virginia, he
says: "This is the next state to which we may turn our eyes for the
interesting spectacle of justice in conflict with avarice and
oppression,--a conflict in which THE SACRED SIDE IS GAINING DAILY
RECRUITS. Be not, therefore, discouraged--what you have written will do
a _great deal of good_; and could you still trouble yourself with our
welfare, no man is more able to give aid to the laboring side. The
College of William and Mary, since the remodelling of its plan, is the
place where are collected together all the young men of Virginia, under
preparation for public life. They are there under the direction (most of
them) of a Mr. Wythe, one of the most virtuous of characters, and _whose
sentiments on the subject of slavery are unequivocal._ I am satisfied,
if you could resolve to address an exhortation to those young men with
all that eloquence of which you are master, that _its influence on the
future decision of this important question would be great, perhaps
decisive._ Thus, you see, that so far from thinking you have cause to
repent of what you have done, _I wish you to do more, and wish it on an
assurance of its effect._"--Jefferson's Posthumous Works, vol. 1, p.

In 1786, John Jay drafted and signed a petition to the Legislature of
New York, on the subject of slavery, beginning with these words: "Your
memorialists being deeply affected by the situation of those, who,
although FREE BY THE LAW OF GOD, are held in slavery by the laws of the
State," &c. This memorial bore also the signatures of the celebrated
Alexander Hamilton; Robert R. Livingston, afterward Secretary of Foreign
Affairs of the United States, and Chancellor of the State of New-York;
James Duane, Major of the City of New-York, and many others of the most
eminent individuals in the State.

In the preamble of an instrument, by which Mr. Jay emancipated a slave
in 1784, is the following passage:

"Whereas, the children of men are by nature equally free, and cannot,
without injustice, be either reduced to or HELD in slavery."

In his letter while Minister at Spain, in 1786, he says, speaking of the
abolition of slavery: "Till America comes into this measure, her prayers
to heaven will be IMPIOUS. I believe God governs the world; and I
believe it to be a maxim in his, as in our court, that those who ask for
equity _ought to do it._"

In 1785, the New-York Manumission Society was formed. John Jay was
chosen its first President, and held the office for five years.
Alexander Hamilton was its second President, and after holding the
office one year, resigned upon his removal to Philadelphia as Secretary
of the United States' Treasury. In 1787, the Pennsylvania Abolition
Society was formed. Benjamin Franklin, warm from the discussions of the
convention that formed the U.S. constitution, was chosen President, and
Benjamin Rush, Secretary--both signers of the Declaration of
Independence. In 1789, the Maryland Abolition Society was formed. Among
its officers were Samuel Chace, Judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, and
Luther Martin, a member of the convention that formed the U.S.
constitution. In 1790, the Connecticut Abolition Society was formed. The
first President was Rev. Dr. Stiles, President of Yale College, and the
Secretary, Simeon Baldwin, (the late Judge Baldwin of New Haven.) In
1791, this Society sent a memorial to Congress, from which the following
is an extract:

"From a sober conviction of the unrighteousness of slavery, your
petitioners have long beheld, with grief, our fellow men doomed
to perpetual bondage, in a country which boasts of her freedom.
Your petitioners are fully of opinion; that calm reflection will
at last convince the world, that the whole system of African
slavery IS unjust in its nature--impolitic in its
principles--and, in its consequences, ruinous to the industry
and enterprise of the citizens of these States. From a
conviction of those truths, your petitioners were led, by
motives, we conceive, of general philanthropy, to associate
ourselves for the protection and assistance of this unfortunate
part of our fellow men; and, though this Society has been
_lately_ established, it has now become _generally extensive_
through this state, and, we fully believe, _embraces, on this
subject, the sentiments of a large majority of its citizens._"

The same year the Virginia Abolition Society was formed. This Society,
and the Maryland Society, had auxiliaries in different parts of those
States. Both societies sent up memorials to Congress. The memorial of
the Virginia Society is headed--"The memorial of the _Virginia Society_,
for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, &c." The following is an

"Your memorialists, fully believing that slavery is not only an
odious degradation, but an _outrageous violation of one of the
most essential rights of human nature, and utterly repugnant to
the precepts of the gospel_, lament that a practice so
inconsistent with true policy and the inalienable rights of men,
should subsist in so enlightened an age, and among a people
professing, that all mankind are, by nature, equally entitled to

About the same time a Society was formed in New Jersey. It had an acting
committee of five members in each county in the State. The following is
an extract from the preamble to its constitution:

"It is our boast, that we live under a government wherein
_life_, _liberty_, and the _pursuit of happiness_, are
recognized as the universal rights of men; and whilst we are
anxious to preserve these rights to ourselves, and transmit them
inviolate, to our posterity, we _abhor that inconsistent,
illiberal, and interested policy, which withholds those rights
from an unfortunate and degraded class of our fellow

Among other distinguished individuals who were efficient officers of
these Abolition Societies, and delegates from their respective state
societies, at the annual meetings of the American convention for
promoting the abolition of slavery, were Hon. Uriah Tracy, United
States' Senator, from Connecticut; Hon. Zephaniah Swift, Chief Justice
of the same State; Hon. Cesar A. Rodney, Attorney General of the United
States; Hon. James A. Bayard, United States' Senator, from Delaware;
Governor Bloomfield, of New-Jersey; Hon. Wm. Rawle, the late venerable
head of the Philadelphia bar; Dr. Caspar Wistar, of Philadelphia;
Messrs. Foster and Tillinghast, of Rhode Island; Messrs. Ridgely,
Buchanan, and Wilkinson, of Maryland; and Messrs. Pleasants, McLean, and
Anthony, of Virginia.

In July, 1787, the old Congress passed the celebrated ordinance
abolishing slavery in the northwestern territory, and declaring that it
should never thereafter exist there. This ordinance was passed while the
convention that formed the United States' constitution was in session.
At the first session of Congress under the constitution, this ordinance
was ratified by a special act. Washington, fresh from the discussions of
the convention, in which _more than forty days had been spent in
adjusting the question of slavery, gave it his approval._ The act passed
with only one dissenting voice, (that of Mr. Yates, of New York,) _the
South equally with the North avowing the fitness and expediency of the
measure on general considerations, and indicating thus early the line of
national policy, to be pursued by the United States' Government on the
subject of slavery_.

In the debates in the North Carolina Convention, Mr. Iredell, afterward
a Judge of the United States' Supreme Court, said, "_When the entire
abolition of slavery takes place_, it will be an event which must be
pleasing to every generous mind and every friend of human nature." Mr.
Galloway said, "I wish to see this abominable trade put an end to. I
apprehend the clause (touching the slave trade) means _to bring forward
manumission_." Luther Martin, of Maryland, a member of the convention
that formed the United States Constitution, said, "We ought to authorize
the General Government to make such regulations as shall be thought most
advantageous for _the gradual abolition of slavery_, and the
_emancipation of the slaves_ which are already in the States." Judge
Wilson, of Pennsylvania, one of the framers of the constitution, said,
in the Pennsylvania convention of '87, [Deb. Pa. Con. p. 303, 156:] "I
consider this (the clause relative to the slave trade) as laying the
foundation for _banishing slavery out of this country_. It will produce
the same kind of gradual change which was produced in Pennsylvania; the
new states which are to be formed will be under the control of Congress
in this particular, and _slaves will never be introduced_ among them. It
presents us with the pleasing prospect that the rights of mankind will
be acknowledged and established _throughout the Union_. Yet the lapse of
a few years, and Congress will have power to _exterminate slavery_
within our borders." In the Virginia convention of '87, Mr. Mason,
author of the Virginia constitution, said, "The augmentation of slaves
weakens the States, and such a trade is _diabolical_ in itself, and
disgraceful to mankind. As much as I value a union of all the states, I
would not admit the southern states, (i.e., South Carolina and Georgia,)
into the union, _unless they agree to a discontinuance of this
disgraceful trade_." Mr. Tyler opposed with great power the clause
prohibiting the abolition of the slave trade till 1808, and said, "My
earnest desire is, that it shall be handed down to posterity that I
oppose this wicked clause." Mr. Johnson said, "The principle of
emancipation _has begun since the revolution. Let us do what we will, it
will come round_."--[Deb. Va. Con. p. 463.] Patrick Henry, arguing the
power of Congress under the United States' constitution to abolish
slavery in the States, said, in the same convention, "Another thing will
contribute to bring this event (the abolition of slavery) about. Slavery
is _detested_. We feel its fatal effects; we deplore it with all the
pity of humanity."--[Deb. Va. Con. p. 431.] In the Mass. Con. of '88,
Judge Dawes said, "Although slavery is not smitten by an apoplexy, yet
_it has received a mortal wound_, and will die of consumption."--[Deb.
Mass. Con. p. 60.] General Heath said that, "Slavery was confined to the
States _now existing_, it _could not be extended_. By their ordinance,
Congress had declared that the new States should be republican States,
_and have no slavery_."--p. 147.

In the debate, in the first Congress, February 11th and 12th, 1789, on
the petitions of the Society of Friends, and the Pennsylvania Abolition
Society, Mr. Parker, of Virginia, said, "I cannot help expressing the
pleasure I feel in finding _so considerable a part_ of the community
attending to matters of such a momentous concern to the _future
prosperity_ and happiness of the people of America. I think it my duty,
as a citizen of the Union, _to espouse their cause_."

Mr. Page, of Virginia, (afterward Governor)--"Was _in favor_ of the
commitment; he hoped that the designs of the respectable memorialists
would not be stopped at the threshold, in order to preclude a fair
discussion of the prayer of the memorial. With respect to the alarm that
was apprehended, he conjectured there was none; but there might be just
cause, if the memorial was _not_ taken into consideration. He placed
himself in the case of a slave, and said, that on hearing that Congress
had refused to listen to the decent suggestions of a respectable part of
the community, he should infer, that the general government, _from which
was expected great good would result to_ EVERY CLASS _of citizens_, had
shut their ears against the voice of humanity, and he should despair of
any alleviation of the miseries he and his posterity had in prospect; if
any thing could induce him to rebel, it must be a stroke like this,
impressing on his mind all the horrors of despair. But if he was told,
that application was made in his behalf, and that Congress were willing
to hear what could be urged in favor of discouraging the practice of
importing his fellow-wretches, he would trust in their justice and
humanity, and _wait the decision patiently_."

Mr. Scott of Pennsylvania: "I cannot, for my part, conceive how any
person _can be said to acquire a property in another_. Let us argue on
principles countenanced by reason, and becoming humanity. _I do not know
how far I might go, if I was one of the judges of the United States, and
those people were to came before me and claim their emancipation, but I
am sure I would go as far as I could_."

Mr. Burke, of South Carolina, said, "He _saw the disposition of the
House_, and he feared it would he referred to a committee, maugre all
their opposition."

Mr. Smith of South Carolina, said, "That on entering into this
government, they (South Carolina and Georgia) apprehended that the other
states, * * _would, from motives of humanity and benevolence,
be led to vote for a general emancipation_."

In the debate, at the same session, May 13th, 1789, on the petition of
the Society of Friends respecting the slave trade, Mr. Parker, of
Virginia, said, "He hoped Congress would do all that lay in their power
_to restore to human nature its inherent privileges_. The inconsistency
in our principles, with which we are justly charged _should be done

Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, said, "IT WAS THE FASHION OF THE DAY TO FAVOR
THE LIBERTY OF THE SLAVES. * * * * Will Virginia
set her negroes free? _When this practice comes to be tried, then the
sound of liberty will lose those charms which make it grateful to the
ravished ear_."

Mr. Madison, of Virginia,--"The dictates of humanity, the principles of
the people, the national safety and happiness, and prudent policy,
require it of us. * * * * I conceive the
constitution in this particular was formed in order that the Government,
whilst it was restrained from laying a total prohibition, might be able
to _give some testimony of the sense of America_, with respect to the
African trade. * * * * It is to be hoped, that by
expressing a national disapprobation of this trade, we may destroy it,
and save ourselves from reproaches, AND OUR POSTERITY THE IMBECILITY
point in which it is clearly the policy of this nation, so far as we
constitutionally can, _to vary the practice_ obtaining under some of the
state governments, it is this. But it is _certain_ a majority of the
states are _opposed to this practice_."--Cong. Reg. v. 1, p. 308-12.

A writer in the "Gazette of the United States," Feb. 20th, 1790, (then
the government paper,) who opposes the abolition of slavery, and avows
himself a _slaveholder_, says, "I have seen in the papers accounts of
_large associations_, and applications to Government for _the abolition
of slavery_. Religion, humanity, and the generosity natural to a free
people, are the _noble principles which dictate those measures_. SUCH

In the convention that formed the constitution of Kentucky in 1790, the
effort to prohibit slavery was nearly successful. A decided majority of
that body would undoubtedly have voted for its exclusion, but for the
great efforts and influence of two large slaveholders--men of commanding
talents and sway--Messrs. Breckenridge and Nicholas. The following
extract from a speech made in that convention by a member of it, Mr.
Rice a native Virginian, is a specimen of the _free discussion_ that
prevailed on that "delicate subject." Said Mr. Rice: "I do a man greater
injury, when I deprive him of his liberty, than when I deprive him of
his property. It is vain for me to plead that I have the sanction of
law; for this makes the injury the greater--it arms the community
against him, and makes his case desperate. The owners of such slaves
then are _licensed robbers_, and not the just proprietors of what they
claim. Freeing them is not depriving them of property, but _restoring it
to the right owner_. In America, a slave is a standing monument of the
tyranny and inconsistency of human governments. The master is the enemy
of the slave; he _has made open war upon him_, AND IS DAILY CARRYING IT
ON in unremitted efforts. Can any one imagine, then, that the slave is
indebted to his master, and _bound to serve him_? Whence can the
obligation arise? What is it founded upon? What is my duty to an enemy
that is carrying on war against me? I do not deny, but in some
circumstances, it is the duty of the slave to serve; but it is a duty he
owes himself, and not his master."

President Edwards, the younger, said, in a sermon preached before the
Connecticut Abolition Society, Sept. 15, 1791: "Thirty years ago,
scarcely a man in this country thought either the slave trade or the
slavery of negroes to be wrong; but now how many and able advocates in
private life, in our legislatures, in Congress, have appeared, and have
openly and irrefragably pleaded the rights of humanity in this as well
as other instances? And if we judge of the future by the past, _within
fifty years from this time, it will be as shameful for a man to hold a
negro slave, as to be guilty of common robbery or theft_."

In 1794, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church adopted its
"Scripture proofs," notes, comments, &c. Among these was the following:

"1 Tim. i. 10. The law is made for manstealers. This crime among
the Jews exposed the perpetrators of it to capital punishment.
Exodus xxi. 16. And the apostle here classes them with _sinners
of the first rank_. The word he uses, in its original import
comprehends all who are concerned in bringing any of the human
race into slavery, or in _retaining_ them in it. _Stealers of
men_ are all those who bring off slaves or freemen, and _keep_,
sell, or buy them."

In 1794, Dr. Rush declared: "Domestic slavery is repugnant to the
principles of Christianity. It prostrates every benevolent and just
principle of action in the human heart. It is rebellion against the
authority of a common Father. It is a practical denial of the extent and
efficacy of the death of a common Savior. It is an usurpation of the
prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe, who has solemnly
claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men."

In 1790, Mr. Fiske, then an officer of Dartmouth College, afterward a
Judge in Tennessee, said, in an oration published that year, speaking of
slaves: "I steadfastly maintain, that we must bring them to _an equal
standing, in point of privileges, with the whites_! They must enjoy all
the rights belonging to human nature."

When the petition on the abolition of the slave trade was under
discussion in the Congress of '89, Mr. Brown, of North Carolina, said,
"The emancipation of the slaves _will be effected_ in time; it ought to
be a gradual business, but he hoped that Congress would not
_precipitate_ it to the great injury of the southern States." Mr.
Hartley, of Pennsylvania, said, in the same debate, "_He was not a
little surprised to hear the cause of slavery advocated in that house._"
WASHINGTON, in a letter to Sir John Sinclair, says, "There are, in
Pennsylvania, laws for the gradual abolition of slavery which neither
Maryland nor Virginia have at present, but which _nothing is more
certain_ than that they _must have_, and at a period NOT REMOTE." In
1782, Virginia passed her celebrated manumission act. Within nine years
from that time nearly eleven thousand slaves were voluntarily
emancipated by their masters. Judge Tucker's "Dissertation on Slavery,"
p. 72. In 1787, Maryland passed an act legalizing manumission. Mr.
Dorsey, of Maryland, in a speech in Congress, December 27th, 1826,
speaking of manumissions under that act, said, that "_The progress of
emancipation was astonishing_, the State became crowded with a free
black population."

The celebrated William Pinkney, in a speech before the Maryland House of
Delegates, in 1789, on the emancipation of slaves, said, "Sir, by the
eternal principles of natural justice, _no master in the state has a
right to hold his slave in bondage for a single hour_.... I would as
soon believe the incoherent tale of a schoolboy, who should tell me he
had been frightened by a ghost, as that the grant of this permission (to
emancipate) ought in any degree to alarm us. Are we apprehensive that
these men will become more dangerous by becoming freemen? Are we
alarmed, lest by being admitted into the enjoyment of civil rights, they
will be inspired with a deadly enmity against the rights of others?
Strange, unaccountable paradox! How much more rational would it be, to
argue that the natural enemy of the privileges of a freeman, is he who
is robbed of them himself! Dishonorable to the species is the idea that
they would ever prove injurious to our interests--released from the
shackles of slavery, by the justice of government and the bounty of
individuals--the want of fidelity and attachment would be next to

Hon. James Campbell, in an address before the Pennsylvania Society of
the Cincinnati, July 4, 1787, said, "Our separation from Great Britain
has extended the empire of humanity. The time _is not far distant_ when
our sister states, in imitation of our example, _shall turn their
vassals into freemen_." The Convention that formed the United States'
Constitution being then in session, attended at the delivery of this
oration with General Washington at their head.

A Baltimore paper of September 8th, 1780, contains the following notice
of Major General Gates: "A few days ago passed through this town the
Hon. General Gates and lady. The General, previous to leaving Virginia,
summoned his numerous family of slaves about him, and amidst their tears
of affection and gratitude, gave them their FREEDOM."

In 1791 the university of William and Mary, in Virginia, conferred upon
Granville Sharpe the degree of Doctor of Laws. Sharpe was at that time
the acknowledged head of British abolitionists. His indefatigable
exertions, prosecuted for years in the case of Somerset, procured that
memorable decision in the Court of King's Bench, which settled the
principle that no slave could be held in England. He was most
uncompromising in his opposition to slavery, and for twenty years
previous he had spoken, written, and accomplished more against it than
any man living.

In the "Memoirs of the Revolutionary War in the Southern Department," by
Gen. Lee, of Va., Commandant of the Partizan Legion, is the following:
"The Constitution of the United States, adopted lately with so much
difficulty, has effectually provided against this evil, (by importation)
after a few years. It is much to be lamented that having done so much in
this way, _a provision had not been made for the gradual abolition of
slavery_."--p. 233, 4.

Mr. Tucker, of Virginia, Judge of the Supreme Court of that state, and
professor of law in the University of William and Mary, addressed a
letter to the General Assembly of that state, in 1796, urging the
abolition of slavery; from which the following is an extract. Speaking
of the slaves in Virginia, he says: "Should we not, at the time of the
revolution, have loosed their chains and broken their fetters; or if the
difficulties and dangers of such an experiment prohibited the attempt,
during the convulsions of a revolution, is it not our duty, _to embrace
the first moment_ of constitutional health and vigor to effectuate so
desirable an object, and to remove from us a stigma with which our
enemies will never fail to upbraid us, nor our consciences to reproach

Mr. Faulkner, in a speech before the Virginia Legislature, Jan. 20,
1832, said--"The idea of a gradual emancipation and removal of the
slaves from this commonwealth, is coeval with the declaration of our
independence from the British yoke. It sprung into existence during the
first session of the General Assembly, subsequent to the formation of
your republican government. When Virginia stood sustained in her
legislation by the pure and philosophic intellect of Pendleton--by the
patriotism of Mason and Lee--by the searching vigor and sagacity of
Wythe, and by the all-embracing, all-comprehensive genius of Thomas
Jefferson! Sir, it was a committee composed of those five illustrious
men, who, in 1777, submitted to the general assembly of this state, then
in session, _a plan for the gradual emancipation of the slaves of this

Hon. Benjamin Watkins Leigh, late United States' senator from Virginia,
in his letters to the people of Virginia, in 1832, signed Appomattox, p.
43, says: "I thought, till very lately, that it was known to every body
that during the Revolution, _and for many years after, the abolition of
slavery was a favorite topic with many of our ablest statesmen_, who
entertained, with respect, all the schemes which wisdom or ingenuity
could suggest for accomplishing the object. Mr. Wythe, to the day of his
death, _was for a simple abolition, considering the objection to color
as founded in prejudice_. By degrees, all projects of the kind were
abandoned. Mr. Jefferson _retained_ his opinion, and now we have these
projects revived."

Governor Barbour, of Virginia, in his speech in the U.S. Senate, on the
Missouri question, Jan. 1820, said:--"We are asked why has Virginia
_changed her policy_ in reference to slavery? That the sentiments of
_our most distinguished men_, for thirty years _entirely corresponded_
with the course which the friends of the restriction (of slavery in
Missouri) now advocated; and that the Virginia delegation, one of whom
was the late President of the United States, voted for the restriction,
(of slavery) in the northwestern territory, and that Mr. Jefferson has
delineated a gloomy picture of the baneful effects of slavery. When it
is recollected that the Notes of Mr. Jefferson were written during the
progress of the revolution, it is no matter of surprise that the writer
should have imbibed a large portion of that enthusiasm which such an
occasion was so well calculated to produce. As to the consent of the
Virginia delegation to the restriction in question, whether the result
of a disposition to restrain the slave trade indirectly, or the
influence of that enthusiasm to which I have just alluded, * *
* * it is not now important to decide. We have witnessed its
effects. The liberality of Virginia, or, as the result may prove, her
folly, which submitted to, or, if you will, PROPOSED _this measure_,
(abolition of slavery in the N.W. territory) has eventuated in effects
which speak a monitory lesson. _How is the representation from this
quarter on the present question?_"

Mr. Imlay, in his early history of Kentucky, p. 185, says: "We have
disgraced the fair face of humanity, and trampled upon the sacred
privileges of man, at the very moment that we were exclaiming against
the tyranny of your (the English) ministry. But in contending for the
birthright of freedom, we have learned to feel _for the bondage of
others_, and in the libations we offer to the goddess of liberty, we
_contemplate an emancipation of the slaves of this country_, as
honorable to themselves as it will be glorious to us."

In the debate in Congress, Jan, 20, 1806, on Mr. Sloan's motion to lay a
tax on the importation of slaves, Mr. Clark of Va. said: "He was no
advocate for a system of slavery." Mr. Marion, of S. Carolina, said: "He
never had purchased, nor should he ever purchase a slave." Mr. Southard
said: "Not revenue, but an expression of the _national sentiment_ is the
principal object." Mr. Smilie--"I rejoice that the word (slave) is not
in the constitution; its not being there does honor to the worthies who
would not suffer it to become a _part_ of it." Mr. Alston, of N.
Carolina--"In two years we shall have the power to prohibit the trade
altogether. Then this House will be UNANIMOUS. No one will object to our
exercising our full constitutional powers." National Intelligencer, Jan.
24, 1806.

These witnesses need no vouchers to entitle them to credit; nor their
testimony comments to make it intelligible--their _names_ are their
_endorsers_ and their strong words their own interpreters. We wave all
comments. Our readers are of age. Whosoever hath ears to _hear_, let him
HEAR. And whosoever will not hear the fathers of the revolution, the
founders of the government, its chief magistrates, judges, legislators
and sages, who dared and periled all under the burdens, and in the heat
of the day that tried men's souls--then "neither will he be persuaded
though THEY rose from the dead."

Some of the points established by the testimony are--The universal
expectation that the _moral_ influence of Congress, of state
legislatures, of seminaries of learning, of churches, of the ministers
of religion, and of public sentiment widely embodied in abolition
societies, would be exerted against slavery, calling forth by argument
and appeal the moral sense of the nation, and creating a power of
opinion that would abolish the system throughout the union. In a word,
that free speech and a free press would be wielded against slavery
without ceasing and without restriction. Full well did the south know,
not only that the national government would probably legislate against
slavery wherever the constitution placed it within its reach, but she
knew also that Congress had already marked out the line of national
policy to be pursued on the subject--had committed itself before the
world to a course of action against slavery, wherever she could move
upon it without encountering a conflicting jurisdiction--that the nation
had established by solemn ordinance memorable precedent for subsequent
action, by abolishing slavery in the northwest territory, and by
declaring that it should never thenceforward exist there; and this too,
as soon as by cession of Virginia and other states, the territory came
under Congressional control. The south knew also that the sixth article
in the ordinance prohibiting slavery was first proposed by the largest
slaveholding state in the confederacy--that the chairman of the
committee that reported the ordinance was a slaveholder--that the
ordinance was enacted by Congress during the session of the convention
that formed the United States Constitution--that the provisions of the
ordinance were, both while in prospect, and when under discussion,
matters of universal notoriety and _approval_ with all parties, and when
finally passed, received the vote _of every member of Congress from each
of the slaveholding states_. The south also had every reason for
believing that the first Congress under the constitution would _ratify_
that ordinance--as it _did_ unanimously.

A crowd of reflections, suggested by the preceding testimony, press for
utterance. The right of petition ravished and trampled by its
constitutional guardians, and insult and defiance hurled in the faces of
the SOVEREIGN PEOPLE while calmly remonstrating _with their_ SERVANTS
for violence committed on the nation's charter and their own dearest
rights! Add to this "the right of peaceably assembling" violently
wrested--the rights of minorities, _rights_ no longer--free speech
struck dumb--free _men_ outlawed and murdered--free presses cast into
the streets and their fragments strewed with shoutings, or flourished in
triumph before the gaze of approving crowds as proud members of
prostrate law!

The spirit and power of our fathers, where are they? Their deep homage
always and every where rendered to FREE THOUGHT, with its _inseparable
signs--free speech and a free press_--their reverence for justice,
liberty, _rights_ and all-pervading law, where are they?

But we turn from these considerations--though the times on which we have
fallen, and those towards which we are borne with headlong haste, call
for their discussion as with the voices of departing life--and proceed
to topics relevant to the argument before us.

The seventh article of the amendments to the constitution is alleged to
withhold from Congress the power to abolish slavery in the District. "No
person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law." All the slaves in the District have been "deprived of
liberty" by legislative acts. Now, these legislative acts "depriving"
them "of liberty," were either "due process of law," or they were _not_.
If they _were_, then a legislative act, taking from the master that
"property" which is the identical "liberty" previously taken from the
slave, would be "due process of law" _also_, and of course a
_constitutional_ act; but if the legislative acts "depriving" them of
"liberty" were _not_ "due process of law," then the slaves were deprived
of liberty _unconstitutionally_, and these acts are _void_. In that case
the _constitution emancipates them_.

If the objector reply, by saying that the import of the phrase "due
process of law," is _judicial_ process solely, it is granted, and that
fact is our rejoinder; for no slave in the District _has_ been deprived
of his liberty by "a judicial process," or, in other words, by "due
process of law;" consequently, upon the objector's own admission, every
slave in the District has been deprived of liberty _unconstitutionally_,
and is therefore _free by the constitution_. This is asserted only of
the slaves under the "exclusive legislation" of Congress.

The last clause of the article under consideration is quoted for the
same purpose: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use
without just compensation." Each of the state constitutions has a clause
of similar purport. The abolition of slavery in the District by
Congress, would not, as we shall presently show, violate this clause
either directly or by implication. Granting for argument's sake, that
slaves are "private property," and that to emancipate them, would be to
"take private property" for "public use," the objector admits the power
of Congress to do _this_, provided it will do something _else_, that is,
_pay_ for them. Thus, instead of denying the _power_, the objector not
only admits, but _affirms_ it, as the ground of the inference that
compensation must accompany it. So far from disproving the existence of
_one_ power, the objector asserts the existence of _two_--one, the power
to take the slaves from their masters, the other, the power to take the
property of the United States to pay for them.

If Congress cannot constitutionally impair the right of private
property, or take it without compensation, it cannot constitutionally,
_legalise_ the perpetration of such acts, by _others_, nor _protect_
those who commit them. Does the power to rob a man of his earnings, rob
the earner of his right to them? Who has a better right to the _product_
than the producer?--to the _interest_, than the owner of the
_principal_?--to the hands and arms, than he from whose shoulders they
swing?--to the body and soul, than he whose they _are_? Congress not
only impairs but annihilates the right of private property, while it
withholds from the slaves of the District their title to _themselves_.
What! Congress powerless to protect a man's right to _himself_, when it
can make inviolable the right to a _dog_! But, waving this, I deny that
the abolition of slavery in the District would violate this clause. What
does the clause prohibit? The "taking" of "private property" for "public
use." Suppose Congress should emancipate the slaves in the District,
what would it "_take_?" Nothing. What would it _hold_? Nothing. What
would it put to "public use?" Nothing. Instead of _taking_ "private
property," Congress, by abolishing slavery, would say "_private
property_ shall not _be_ taken; and those who have been robbed of it
already, shall be kept out of it no longer; and since every man's right
to his own body is _paramount_, he shall be protected in it." True,
Congress may not arbitrarily take property, _as_ property, from one man
and give it to another--and in the abolition of slavery no such thing is
done. A legislative act changes the _condition_ of the slave--makes him
his own _proprietor_ instead of the property of another. It determines a
question of _original right_ between two classes of persons--doing an
act of justice to one, and restraining the other from acts of injustice;
or, in other words, preventing one from robbing the other, by granting
to the injured party the protection of just and equitable laws.

Congress, by an act of abolition, would change the condition of seven
thousand "persons" in the District, but would "take" nothing. To
construe this provision so as to enable the citizens of the District to
hold as property, and in perpetuity, whatever they please, or to hold it
as property in all circumstances--all necessity, public welfare, and the
will and power of the government to the contrary notwithstanding--is a
total perversion of its whole _intent_. The _design_ of the provision,
was to throw up a barrier against Governmental aggrandizement. The right
to "take property" for _State uses_ is one thing;--the right so to
adjust the _tenures_ by which property is held, that _each may have his
own secured to him_, is another thing, and clearly within the scope of
legislation. Besides, if Congress were to "take" the slaves in the
District, it would be _adopting_, not abolishing slavery--becoming a
slaveholder itself, instead of requiring others to be such no longer.
The clause in question, prohibits the "taking" of individual property
for public uses, to be employed or disposed of as property for
governmental purposes. Congress, by abolishing slavery in the District,
would do no such thing. It would merely change the _condition_ of that
which has been recognised as a qualified property by congressional acts,
though previously declared "persons" by the constitution. More than this
is done continually by Congress and every other Legislature. Property
the most absolute and unqualified, is annihilated by legislative acts.
The embargo and non-intercourse act, prostrated at a stroke, a forest of
shipping, and sunk millions of capital. To say nothing of the power of
Congress to take hundreds of millions from the people by direct
taxation, who doubts its power to abolish at once the whole tariff
system, change the seat of Government, arrest the progress of national
works, prohibit any branch of commerce with the Indian tribes or with
foreign nations, change the locality of forts, arsenals, magazines, dock
yards, &c., to abolish the Post Office system, the privilege of patents
and copyrights, &c. By such acts Congress might, in the exercise of its
acknowledged powers, annihilate property to an incalculable amount, and
that without becoming liable to claims for compensation.

Finally, this clause prohibits the taking for public use of
"_property_." The constitution of the United States does not recognise
slaves as "PROPERTY" any where, and it does not recognise them in _any
sense_ in the District of Columbia. All allusions to them in the
constitution recognise them as "persons." Every reference to them points
_solely_ to the element of _personality_; and thus, by the strongest
implication, declares that the constitution _knows_ them only as
"persons," and _will_ not recognise them in any other light. If they
escape into free States, the constitution authorizes their being taken
back. But how? Not as the property of an "owner," but as "persons;" and
the peculiarity of the expression is a marked recognition of their
_personality_--a refusal to recognise them as chattels--"persons _held_
to service." Are _oxen_ "_held_ to service?" That can be affirmed only
of _persons_. Again, slaves give political power as "persons." The
constitution, in settling the principle of representation, requires
their enumeration in the census. How? As property? Then why not include
race horses and game cocks? Slaves, like other inhabitants, are
enumerated as "persons." So by the constitution, the government was
pledged to non-interference with "the migration or importation of such
persons" as the States might think proper to admit until 1808, and
authorized the laying of a tax on each "person" so admitted. Further,
slaves are recognised as _persons_ by the exaction of their _allegiance_
to the government. For offences against the government slaves are tried
as _persons_; as persons they are entitled to counsel for their defence,
to the rules of evidence, and to "due process of law," and as _persons_
they are punished. True, they are loaded with cruel disabilities in
courts of law, such as greatly obstruct and often inevitably defeat the
ends of justice, yet they are still recognised as _persons_. Even in the
legislation of Congress, and in the diplomacy of the general government,
notwithstanding the frequent and wide departures from the integrity of
the constitution on this subject, slaves are not recognised as
_property_ without qualification. Congress has always refused to grant
compensation for slaves killed or taken by the enemy, even when these
slaves had been impressed into the United States' service. In half a
score of cases since the last war, Congress has rejected such
applications for compensation. Besides, both in Congressional acts, and
in our national diplomacy, slaves and property are not used as
convertible terms. When mentioned in treaties and state papers it is in
such a way as to distinguish them from mere property, and generally by a
recognition of their _personality_. In the invariable recognition of
slaves as _persons_, the United States' constitution caught the mantle
of the glorious Declaration, and most worthily wears it.--It recognizes
all human beings as "men," "persons," and thus as "equals." In the
original draft of the Declaration, as it came from the hand of
Jefferson, it is alleged that Great Britain had "waged a cruel war
against _human_ nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life
and liberty in the persons of a distant people, carrying them into
slavery, * * determined to keep up a market where MEN should be
bought and sold,"--thus disdaining to make the charter of freedom a
warrant for the arrest of _men_, that they might be shorn both of
liberty and humanity.

The celebrated Roger Sherman, one of the committee of five appointed to
draft the Declaration of Independence, and also a member of the
convention that formed the United States' constitution, said, in the
first Congress after its adoption: "The constitution _does not consider
these persons,_ (slaves,) _as a species of property._"--[Lloyd's Cong.
Reg. v. 1, p. 313.] That the United States' Constitution does not make
slaves "property," is shown in the fact that no person, either as a
citizen of the United States, or by having his domicile within the
United States' government, can hold slaves. He can hold them only by
deriving his power from _state_ laws, or from the laws of Congress, if
he hold slaves within the District. But no person resident within the
United States' jurisdiction, and not within the District, nor within a
state whose laws support slavery, nor "held to service" under the laws
of such state or district, having escaped therefrom, _can be held as a

Men can hold _property_ under the United States' government though
residing beyond the bounds of any state, district, or territory. An
inhabitant of the Wisconsin Territory can hold property there under the
laws of the United States, but he cannot hold _slaves_ there under the
United States' laws, nor by virtue of the United States' Constitution,
nor upon the ground of his United States citizenship, nor by having his
domicile within the United States' jurisdiction. The constitution no
where recognizes the right to "slave property," _but merely the fact
that the states have jurisdiction each in its own limits, and that there
are certain "persons" within their jurisdictions "held to service" by
their own laws._

Finally, in the clause under consideration, "private property" is not to
be taken "without _just_ compensation." "JUST!" If justice is to be
appealed to in determining the amount of compensation, let her determine
the _grounds_ also. If it be her province to say _how much_ compensation
is "just," it is hers to say whether _any_ is "just,"--whether the slave
is "just" property _at all_, rather than a "_person_." Then, if justice
adjudges the slave to be "private property," it adjudges him to be _his
own_ property, since the right to one's _self_ is the first right--the
source of all others--the original stock by which they are
accumulated--the principal, of which they are the interest. And since
the slave's "private property" has been "taken," and since
"compensation" is impossible--there being no _equivalent_ for one's
self--the least that can be done is to restore to him his original
private property.

Having shown that in abolishing slavery, "property" would not be "taken
for public use," it may be added that, in those states where slavery has
been abolished by law, no claim for compensation has been allowed.
Indeed the manifest absurdity of demanding it, seems to have quite
forstalled the _setting up_ of such a claim.

The abolition of slavery in the District, instead of being a legislative
anomaly, would proceed upon the principles of every day legislation. It
has been shown already, that the United States' Constitution does not
recognize slaves as "property." Yet ordinary legislation is full of
precedents, showing that even _absolute_ property is in many respects
wholly subject to legislation. The repeal of the law of entailments--all
those acts that control the alienation of property, its disposal by
will, its passing to heirs by descent, with the question, who shall be
heirs, and what shall be the rule of distribution among them, or whether
property shall be transmitted at all by descent, rather than escheat to
the state--these, with statutes of limitation, and various other classes
of legislative acts, serve to illustrate the acknowledged scope of the
law-making power, even where property _is in every sense absolute_.
Persons whose property is thus affected by public laws, receive from the
government no compensation for their losses, unless the state has been
put in possession of the property taken from them.

The preamble of the United States' Constitution declares it to be a
fundamental object of the organization of the government "to ESTABLISH
JUSTICE." Has Congress _no power_ to do that for which it was made the
_depository of power_? CANNOT the United States' Government fulfil the
purpose _for which it was brought into being_?

To abolish slavery, is to take from no rightful owner his property; but
to "_establish justice_" between two parties. To emancipate the slave,
is to "_establish justice_" between him and his master--to throw around
the person, character, conscience, liberty, and domestic relations of
the one, _the same law_ that secures and blesses the other. In other
words, to prevent by _legal restraints_ one class of men from seizing
upon another class, and robbing them at pleasure of their earnings,
their time, their liberty, their kindred, and the very use and ownership
of their own persons. Finally, to abolish slavery is to proclaim and
_enact_ that innocence and helplessness--now _free plunder_--are
entitled to _legal protection_; and that power, avarice, and lust, shall
no longer gorge upon their spoils under the license, and by the
ministrations of _law_! Congress, by possessing "exclusive legislation
in all cases whatsoever," has a _general protective power_ for ALL the
inhabitants of the District. If it has no power to protect _one_ man, it
has none to protect another--none to protect _any_--and if it _can_
protect _one_ man and is _bound_ to protect him, it _can_ protect
_every_ man--all men--and is _bound_ to do it. All admit the power of
Congress to protect the masters in the District against their slaves.
What part of the constitution gives the power? The clause so often
quoted,--"power of legislation in all cases whatsoever," equally in the
"_case_" of defending the blacks against the whites, as in that of
defending the whites against the blacks. The power is given also by Art.
1, Sec. 8, clause 15--"Congress shall have power to suppress
insurrections"--a power to protect, as well blacks against whites, as
whites against blacks. If the constitution gives power to protect _one_
class against the other, it gives power to protect _either_ against the
other. Suppose the blacks in the District should seize the whites, drive
them into the fields and kitchens, force them to work without pay, flog
them, imprison them, and sell them at their pleasure, where would
Congress find power to restrain such acts? Answer; a _general_ power in
the clause so often cited, and an _express_ one in that cited
above--"Congress shall have power to suppress insurrections." So much
for a _supposed_ case. Here follows a _real_ one. The whites in the
District _are perpetrating these identical acts_ upon seven thousand
blacks daily. That Congress has power to restrain these acts in _one_
case, all assert, and in so doing they assert the power "in _all_ cases
whatsoever." For the grant of power to suppress insurrections, is an
_unconditional_ grant, not hampered by provisos as to the color, shape,
size, sex, language, creed, or condition of the insurgents. Congress
derives its power to suppress this _actual_ insurrection, from the same
source whence it derived its power to suppress the _same_ acts in the
case _supposed_. If one case is an insurrection, the other is. The
_acts_ in both are the same; the _actors_ only are different. In the one
case, ignorant and degraded--goaded by the memory of the past, stung by
the present, and driven to desperation by the fearful looking for of
wrongs for ever to come. In the other, enlightened into the nature of
_rights_, the principles of justice, and the dictates of the law of
love, unprovoked by wrongs, with cool deliberation, and by system, they
perpetrate these acts upon those to whom they owe unnumbered obligations
for _whole lives_ of unrequited service. On which side may palliation be
pleaded, and which party may most reasonably claim an abatement of the
rigors of law? If Congress has power to suppress such acts _at all_, it
has power to suppress them _in_ all.

It has been shown already that _allegiance_ is exacted of the slave. Is
the government of the United States unable to grant _protection_ where
it exacts _allegiance_? It is an axiom of the civilized world, and a
maxim even with savages, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal
and correlative. Are principles powerless with us which exact homage of
barbarians? _Protection is the_ CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT _of every human
being under the exclusive legislation of Congress who has not forfeited
it by crime._

In conclusion, I argue the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the
District, from Art. 1, sec, 8, clause 1, of the constitution; "Congress
shall have power to provide for the common defence and the general
welfare of the United States." Has the government of the United States
no power under this grant, to legislate within its own exclusive
jurisdiction on subjects that vitally affect its interests? Suppose the
slaves in the district should rise upon their masters, and the United
States' government, in quelling the insurrection, should kill any number
of them. Could their masters claim compensation of the government?
Manifestly not; even though no proof existed that the particular slaves
killed were insurgents. This was precisely the point at issue between
those masters, whose slaves were killed by the State troops at the time
of the Southampton insurrection, and the Virginia Legislature: no
evidence was brought to show that the slaves killed by the troops were
insurgents; yet the Virginia Legislature decided that their masters were
_not entitled to compensation_. They proceeded on the sound principle,
that a government may in self-protection destroy the claim of its
subjects even to that which has been recognized as property by its own
acts. If in providing for the common defence, the United States'
government, in the case supposed, would have power to destroy slaves
both as _property_ and _persons_, it surely might stop _half-way_,
destroy them _as property_ while it legalized their existence as
_persons_, and thus provided for the common defence by giving them a
personal and powerful interest in the government, and securing their
strength for its defence.

Like other Legislatures, Congress has power to abate nuisances--to
remove or tear down unsafe buildings--to destroy infected cargoes--to
lay injunctions upon manufactories injurious to the public health--and
thus to "provide for the common defence and general welfare" by
destroying individual property, when such property puts in jeopardy the
public weal.

Granting, for argument's sake, that slaves are "property" in the
District of Columbia--if Congress has a right to annihilate property in
the District when the public safety requires it, it may surely
annihilate its existence _as_ property when the public safety requires
it, especially if it transform into a _protection_ and _defence_ that
which as _property_ perilled the public interests. In the District of
Columbia there are, besides the United States' Capitol, the President's
house, the national offices, &c. of the Departments of State, Treasury,
War, and Navy, the General Post-office, and Patent Office. It is also
the residence of the President, all the highest officers of the
government, both houses of Congress, and all the foreign ambassadors. In
this same District there are also _seven thousand slaves_. Jefferson, in
his Notes on Va. p. 241, says of slavery, that "the State permitting one
half of its citizens to trample on the rights of the other, _transforms
them into enemies_;" and Richard Henry Lee, in the Va. house of
Burgesses in 1758, declared that to those who held them, "_slaves must
be natural enemies_." Is Congress so _impotent_ that it _cannot_
exercise that right pronounced both by municipal and national law, the
most sacred and universal--the right of self-preservation and defence?
Is it shut up to the _necessity_ of keeping seven thousand "enemies" in
the heart of the nation's citadel? Does the iron fiat of the
constitution doom it to such imbecility that it _cannot_ arrest the
process that _made_ them "enemies," and still goads to deadlier hate by
fiery trials, and day by day adds others to their number? Is _this_
providing for the common defence and general welfare? If to rob men of
rights excites their hate, freely to restore them and make amends, will
win their love.

By emancipating the slaves in the District, the government of the United
States would disband an army of "enemies," and enlist "for the common
defence and general welfare," a body guard of _friends_ seven thousand
strong. In the last year, a handful of British soldiers sacked
Washington city, burned the capitol, the President's house, and the
national offices and archives; and no marvel, for thousands of the
inhabitants of the District had been "TRANSFORMED INTO ENEMIES." Would
_they_ beat back invasion? If the national government had exercised its
constitutional "power to provide for the common defence and to promote
the general welfare," by turning those "enemies" into friends, then,
instead of a hostile ambush lurking in every thicket inviting assault,
and secret foes in every house paralyzing defence, an army of allies
would have rallied in the hour of her calamity, and shouted defiance
from their munitions of rocks; whilst the banner of the republic, then
trampled in dust, would have floated securely over FREEMEN exulting
amidst bulwarks of strength.

To show that Congress can abolish slavery in the District, under the
grant of power "to provide for the common defence and to promote the
general welfare," I quote an extract from a speech of Mr. Madison, of
Va., in the first Congress under the constitution, May 13, 1789.
Speaking of the abolition of the slave trade, Mr. Madison says: "I
should venture to say it is as much for the interests of Georgia and
South Carolina, as of any state in the union. Every addition they
receive to their number of slaves tends to _weaken_ them, and renders
them less capable of self-defence. In case of hostilities with foreign
nations, they will be the means of _inviting_ attack instead of
repelling invasion. It is a necessary duty of the general government to
protect every part of the empire against danger, as well _internal_ as
external. _Every thing, therefore, which tends to increase this danger,
though it may be a local affair, yet if it involves national expense or
safety, it becomes of concern to every part of the union, and is a
proper subject for the consideration of those charged with the general
administration of the government._" See Cong. Reg. vol. 1, p. 310, 11.


My apology for adding a _postscript_, to a discussion already perhaps
too protracted, is the fact that the preceding sheets were in the hands
of the printer, and all but the concluding pages had gone through the
press, before the passage of Mr. Calhoun's late resolutions in the
Senate of the United States. A proceeding so extraordinary,--if indeed
the time has not passed when _any_ acts of Congress in derogation of
freedom and in deference to slavery, can be deemed
extraordinary,--should not be suffered to pass in silence at such a
crisis as the present; especially as the passage of one of the
resolutions by a vote of 36 to 9, exhibits a shift of position on the
part of the South, as sudden as it is unaccountable, being nothing less
than the surrender of a fortress which until then they had defended with
the pertinacity of a blind and almost infuriated fatuity. Upon the
discussions during the pendency of the resolutions, and upon the vote,
by which they were carried, I make no comment, save only to record my
exultation in the fact there exhibited, that great emergencies are _true
touchstones_, and that henceforward, until this question is settled,
whoever holds a seat in Congress will find upon, and all around him, a
pressure strong enough to TEST him--a focal blaze that will find its way
through the carefully adjusted cloak of fair pretension, and the
sevenfold brass of two-faced political intrigue, and _no_-faced
_non-committalism_, piercing to the dividing asunder of joints and
marrow. Be it known to every northern man who aspires to a seat in
Congress, that hereafter it is the destiny of congressional action on
this subject, to be a MIGHTY REVELATOR--making secret thoughts public
property, and proclaiming on the house-tops what is whispered in the
ear--smiting off masks, and bursting open sepulchres beautiful
outwardly, and heaving up to the sun their dead men's bones. To such we
say,--_Remember the Missouri Question, and the fate of those who then
sold the North, and their own birthright_!

Passing by the resolutions generally without remark--the attention of
the reader is specially solicited to Mr. Clay's substitute for Mr.
Calhoun's fifth resolution.

"Resolved, That when the District of Columbia was ceded by the
states of Virginia and Maryland to the United States, domestic
slavery existed in both of these states, including the ceded
territory, and that, as it still continues in both of them, it
could not be abolished within the District without a violation
of that good faith, which was implied in the cession and in the
acceptance of the territory; nor, unless compensation were made
to the proprietors of slaves, without a manifest infringement of
an amendment to the constitution of the United States; nor
without exciting a degree of just alarm and apprehension in the
states recognizing slavery, far transcending in mischievous
tendency, any possible benefit which could be accomplished by
the abolition."

By voting for this resolution, the south, by a simultaneous movement,
shifted its mode of defense, not so much by taking a position entirely
new, as by attempting to refortify an old one--never much trusted in,
and abandoned mainly long ago, as being unable to hold out against
assault however unskilfully directed. In the debate on this resolution,
though the southern members of Congress did not _professedly_ retreat
from the ground hitherto maintained by them--that Congress has no power
by the constitution to abolish slavery in the District--yet in the main
they silently drew off from it.

The passage of this resolution--with the vote of every southern senator,
forms a new era in the discussion of this question.

We cannot join in the lamentations of those who bewail it. We hail it,
and rejoice in it. It was as we would have had it--offered by a southern
senator, advocated by southern senators, and on the ground that it "was
no compromise"--that it embodied the true southern principle--that "this
resolution stood on as high ground as Mr. Calhoun's"--(Mr.
Preston)--"that Mr. Clay's resolution was as strong as Mr.
Calhoun's"--(Mr. Rives)--that "the resolution he (Mr. Calhoun) now
refused to support, was as strong as his own, and that in supporting it,
there was no abandonment of principle by the south."--(Mr. Walker, of
Mi.)--further, that it was advocated by the southern senators generally
as an expression of their views, and as setting the question of slavery
in the District on its _true_ ground--that finally when the question was
taken, every slaveholding senator, including Mr. Calhoun himself, voted
for the resolution.

By passing this resolution, and with such avowals, the south has
surrendered irrevocably the whole question at issue between them and the
petitioners for abolition in the District. It has, unwittingly but
explicitly, conceded the main question argued in the preceding pages.

The _only_ ground taken against the right of Congress to abolish slavery
in the District is, that it existed in Maryland and Virginia when the
cession was made, and "_as it still continues in both of them_, it could
not be abolished without a violation of that good faith which was
implied in the cession." &c. The _sole argument_ is _not_ that exclusive
_sovereignty_ has no power to abolish slavery within its jurisdiction,
_nor_ that the powers of even _ordinary legislation_ cannot do
it,--_nor_ that the clause granting Congress "exclusive legislation in
all cases whatsoever over such District," gives no power to do it; but
that the _unexpressed expectation_ of one of the parties that the other
would not "in _all_ cases" _use_ the power which said party had
consented _might be used_ "_in all cases_," _prohibits_ the use of it.
The only cardinal point in the discussion, is here not only _yielded_,
but formally laid down by the South as the leading article in their
creed on the question of Congressional jurisdiction over slavery in the
District. The _sole reason_ given why Congress should not abolish, and
the sole evidence that if it did, such abolition would be a violation of
"good faith," is that "_slavery still continues in those states_,"--thus
explicitly admitting, that if slavery did _not_ "still continue" in
those States, Congress _could_ abolish it in the District. The same
admission is made also in the _premises_, which state that slavery
existed in those states _at the time of the cession_, &c. Admitting that
if it had _not_ existed there then, but had grown up in the District
under _United States' laws_, Congress might constitutionally abolish it.
Or that if the ceded parts of those states had been the _only_ parts in
which slaves were held under their laws, Congress might have abolished
in such a contingency also. The cession in that case leaving no slaves
in those states,--no "good faith," would be "implied" in it, nor any
"violated," by an act of abolition. The principle of the resolution
makes this further admission, that if Maryland and Virginia should at
once abolish their slavery, Congress might at once abolish it in the
District. The principle goes even further than this, and _requires_
Congress in such case to abolish slavery in the District "by the _good
faith implied_ in the cession and acceptance of the territory." Since,
according to the spirit and scope of the resolution, this "implied good
faith" of Maryland and Virginia in making the cession, was that Congress
would do nothing within the District which should go to counteract the
policy, or bring into disrepute the "institutions," or call in question
the usages, or even in any way ruffle the prejudices of those states, or
do what _they_ might think would unfavorably bear upon their interests;
_themselves_ of course being the judges.

But let us dissect another limb of the resolution. What is to be
understood by "that good faith which was IMPLIED?" It is of course an
admission that such a condition was not _expressed_ in the acts of
cession--that in their _terms_ there is nothing restricting the power of
Congress on the subject of slavery in the District--not a word alluding
to it, nor one inserted with such an _intent_. This "implied faith,"
then, rests on no clause or word in the United States' Constitution, or
in the acts of cession, or in the acts of Congress accepting the
cession, nor does it rest on any declarations of the legislatures of
Maryland and Virginia made at the time, or in that generation, nor on
any _act_ of theirs, nor on any declaration of the people of those
states, nor on the testimony of the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Madisons,
Chaces, Martins, and Jennifers, of those states and times. The assertion
rests _on itself alone_! Mr. Clay and the other senators who voted for
the resolution, _guess_ that Maryland and Virginia supposed that
Congress would by no means _use_ the power given them by the
constitution, except in such ways as would be well pleasing in the eyes
of those states; especially as one of them was the "Ancient Dominion!"
And now after the lapse of half a century, this _assumed expectation_ of
Maryland and Virginia, the existence of which is mere matter of
conjecture with the 36 senators, is conjured up and duly installed upon
the judgment-seat of final appeal, before whose nod constitutions are to
flee away, and with whom, solemn grants of power and explicit guaranties
are, when weighed in the balance, altogether lighter than vanity!

But let us survey it in another light. Why did Maryland and Virginia
leave so much to be "_implied_?" Why did they not in some way express
what lay so near their hearts? Had their vocabulary run so low that a
single word could not be eked out for the occasion? Or were those states
so bashful of a sudden that they dare not speak out and tell what they
wanted? Or did they take it for granted that Congress would always act
in the premises according to their wishes, and that too, without their
_making known_ their wishes? If, as honorable senators tell us, Maryland
and Virginia did verily travail with such abounding _faith_, why brought
they forth no _works_?

It is as true in _legislation_ as in religion, that the only _evidence_
of "faith" is _works_, and that "faith" _without_ works is _dead_, i.e.
has no _power_. But here, forsooth, a blind implication with nothing
_expressed_, an "implied" _faith_ without works, is _omnipotent_. Mr.
Clay is lawyer enough to know that even a _senatorial hypothesis_ as to
what must have been the _understanding_ of Maryland and Virginia about
congressional exercise of constitutional power, _abrogates no grant_,
and that to plead it in a court of law, would be of small service except
to jostle "their Honors'" gravity! He need not be told that the
constitution gives Congress "power to exercise exclusive legislation in
all cases whatsoever over such District." Nor that the legislatures of
Maryland and Virginia constructed their acts of cession with this clause
_before their eyes_, and that both of them declared those acts made "in
_pursuance_" of said clause. Those states were aware that the United
States in their constitution had left nothing to be "_implied_" as to
the power of Congress over the District;--an admonition quite sufficient
one would think to put them on their guard, and induce them to eschew
vague implications and resort to _stipulations_. Full well did they know
also that those were times when, in matters of high import, _nothing_
was left to be "implied." The colonies were then panting from a twenty
years' conflict with the mother country, about bills of rights,
charters, treaties, constitutions, grants, limitations, and _acts of
cession_. The severities of a long and terrible discipline had taught
them to guard at all points _legislative grants_, that their exact
import and limit might be self-evident--leaving no scope for a blind
"faith," that _somehow_ in the lottery of chances there would be no
blanks, but making all sure by the use of explicit terms, and wisely
chosen words, and _just enough_ of them. The Constitution of the United
States with its amendments, those of the individual states, the national
treaties, the public documents of the general and state governments at
that period, show the universal conviction of legislative bodies, that
when great public interest were at stake, nothing should be left to be

Further: suppose Maryland and Virginia had expressed their "implied
faith" in _words_, and embodied it in their acts of cession as a
proviso, declaring that Congress should not "exercise exclusive
legislation in _all_ cases whatsoever over the District," but that the
"case" of _slavery_ should be an exception: who does not know that
Congress, if it had accepted the cession on those terms, would have
violated the Constitution; and who that has ever studied the free mood
of those times in its bearings on slavery--proofs of which are given in
scores on the preceding pages--can for an instant believe that the
people of the United States would have altered their Constitution for
the purpose of providing for slavery an inviolable sanctuary; that when
driven in from its outposts, and everywhere retreating discomfited
before the march of freedom, it might be received into everlasting
habitations on the common homestead and hearth-stone of this free
republic? Besides, who can believe that Virginia made such a condition,
or cherished such a purpose, when at that very moment, Washington,
Jefferson, Wythe, Patrick Henry, St. George Tucker, and almost all her
illustrious men, were advocating the abolition of slavery by law. When
Washington had said, two years before, Maryland and Virginia "must have
laws for the gradual abolition of slavery and at a period _not remote_;"
and when Jefferson in his letter to Price, three years before the
cession, had said, speaking of Virginia, "This is the next state to
which we may turn our eyes for the interesting spectacle of justice in
conflict with avarice and oppression--a conflict in which THE SACRED
SIDE IS GAINING DAILY RECRUITS;" when voluntary emancipations on the
soil were then progressing at the rate of between one and two thousand
annually, (See Judge Tucker's "Dissertation on Slavery," p. 73;) when
the public sentiment of Virginia had undergone, and was undergoing so
mighty a revolution that the idea of the continuance of slavery as a
permanent system could not be _tolerated_, though she then contained
about half the slaves in the Union. Was this the time to stipulated for
the _perpetuity_ of slavery under the exclusive legislation of Congress?
and that too at the _same_ session of Congress when _every one_ of her
delegation voted for the abolition of slavery in the North West
Territory; a territory which she had herself ceded to Congress, and
along with it had surrendered her jurisdiction over many of her
citizens, inhabitants of that territory, who held slaves there--and
whose slaves were emancipated by that act of Congress, in which all her
delegation with one accord participated?

Now in view of the universal belief then prevalent, that slavery in this
country was doomed to short life, and especially that in Maryland and
Virginia it would be _speedily_ abolished--are we to be told that those
states _designed_ to bind Congress _never_ to terminate it? Are we to
adopt the monstrous conclusion that this was the intent of the Ancient
Dominion--thus to _bind_ the United States by an "implied faith," and
that when the United States _accepted_ the cession, she did solemnly
thus plight her troth, and that Virginia did then so _understand_ it?
Verily one would think that honorable senators supposed themselves
deputed to do our _thinking_ as well as our legislation, or rather, that
they themselves were absolved from such drudgery by virtue of their

Another absurdity of this dogma about "implied faith" is, that where
there was no power to exact an _express_ pledge, there was none to
demand an _implied_ one, and where there was no power to _give_ the one,
there was none to give the _other_. We have shown already that Congress
could not have accepted the cession with such a condition. To have
signed away a part of its constitutional grant of power would have been
a _breach_ of the Constitution. Further, the Congress which accepted the
cession was competent to pass a resolution pledging itself not to _use
all_ the power over the District committed to it by the Constitution.
But here its power ended. Its resolution would only bind _itself_. Could
it bind the _next_ Congress by its authority? Could the members of one
Congress say to the members of another, because we do not choose to
exercise all the authority vested in us by the Constitution, therefore
you _shall_ not? This would have been a prohibition to do what the
Constitution gives power to do. Each successive Congress would still
have gone to the Constitution for its power, brushing away in its course
the cobwebs stretched across its path by the officiousness of an
impertinent predecessor. Again, the legislatures of Virginia and
Maryland, had no power to bind Congress, either by an express or an
implied pledge, never to abolish slavery in the District. Those
legislatures had no power to bind _themselves_ never to abolish slavery
within their own territories--the ceded parts included. Where then would
they get power to bind _another_ not to do what they had no power to
bind themselves not to do? If a legislature could not in this respect
control the successive legislatures of its own State, could it control
the successive Congresses of the United States?

But perhaps we shall be told, that the "implied faith" in the acts of
cession of Maryland and Virginia was _not_ that Congress should _never_
abolish slavery in the District, but that it should not do it until
_they_ had done it within their bounds! Verily this "faith" comes little
short of the faith of miracles! "A good rule that works both ways."
First, Maryland and Virginia have "good faith" that Congress will _not_
abolish until _they_ do; and then just as "good faith" that Congress
_will_ abolish _when_ they do! Excellently accommodated! Did those
States suppose that Congress would legislate over the national domain,
the common jurisdiction of _all_, for Maryland and Virginia alone? And
who, did they suppose, would be judges in the matter?--themselves
merely? or the whole Union?

This "good faith implied in the cession" is no longer of doubtful
interpretation. The principle at the bottom of it, when fairly stated,
is this:--That the Government of the United States are bound in "good
faith" to do in the District of Columbia, without demurring, just what
and when, Maryland and Virginia do in their own States. In short, that
the general government is eased of all the burdens of legislation within
its exclusive jurisdiction, save that of hiring a scrivener to copy off
the acts of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures as fast as they are
passed, and engross them, under the title of "Laws of the United States,
for the District of Columbia!" A slight additional expense would also be
incurred in keeping up an express between the capitols of those States
and Washington city, bringing Congress from time to time its
"_instructions_" from head quarters--instructions not to be disregarded
without a violation of that "good faith implied in the cession," &c.

This sets in strong light the advantages of "our glorious Union," if the
doctrine of Mr. Clay and the thirty-six Senators be orthodox. The people
of the United States have been permitted to set up at their own expense,
and on their own territory, two great _sounding boards_ called "Senate
Chamber" and "Representatives' Hall," for the purpose of sending abroad
"by authority" _national_ echoes of _state_ legislation!--permitted also
to keep in their pay a corps of pliant _national_ musicians, with
peremptory instructions to sound on any line of the staff according as
Virginia and Maryland may give the _sovereign_ key note!

Though this may have the seeming of mere raillery, yet an analysis of
the resolution and of the discussions upon it, will convince every fair
mind that it is but the legitimate carrying out of the _principle_
pervading both. They proceed virtually upon the hypothesis that the will
and pleasure of Virginia and Maryland are _paramount_ to those of the
_Union_. If the main design of setting apart a federal district had been
originally the accommodation of Maryland, Virginia, and the south, with
the United States as an _agent_ to consummate the object, there could
hardly have been higher assumption or louder vaunting. The sole object
of _having_ such a District was in effect totally perverted in the
resolution of Mr. Clay, and in the discussions of the entire southern
delegation, upon its passage. Instead of taking the ground, that the
benefit of the whole Union was the sole _object_ of a federal district,
that it was designed to guard and promote the interests of _all_ the
states, and that it was to be legislated over _for this end_--the
resolution proceeds upon an hypothesis _totally the reverse_. It takes a
single point of _state_ policy, and exalts it above NATIONAL interests,
utterly overshadowing them; abrogating national _rights_; making void a
clause of the Constitution; humbling the general government into a
subject--crouching for favors to a superior, and that too _on its own
exclusive jurisdiction_. All the attributes of sovereignty vested in
Congress by the Constitution it impales upon the point of an alleged
_implication_. And this is Mr. Clay's peace-offering, to appease the
lust of power and the ravenings of state encroachment! A "compromise,"
forsooth! that sinks the general Government on _its own territory_ into
a mere colony, with Virginia and Maryland for its "mother country!" It
is refreshing to turn from these shallow, distorted constructions and
servile cringings, to the high bearing of other southern men in other
times; men, who in their character of legislators and lawyers, disdained
to accommodate their interpretations of constitutions and charters to
geographical lines, or to bend them to the purposes of a political
canvass. In the celebrated case of Cohens vs. the State of Virginia,
Hon. William Pinkney, late of Baltimore, and Hon. Walter Jones, of
Washington city, with other eminent constitutional lawyers, prepared an
elaborate written opinion, from which the following is an extract: "Nor
is there any danger to be apprehended from allowing to Congressional
legislation with regard to the District of Columbia, its FULLEST EFFECT.
Congress is responsible to the States, and to the people for that
legislation. It is in truth the legislation of the states over a
district placed under their control for _their own benefit_, not for
that of the District, except as the prosperity of the District is
involved, and necessary to the _general advantage_."--[Life of Pinkney,
p. 612.]

The profound legal opinion, from which this is an extract, was
elaborated at great length many years since, by a number of the most
distinguished lawyers in the United States, whose signatures are
appended to it. It is specific and to the point. It asserts, 1st, that
Congressional legislation over the District, is "the legislation of the
_States_ and the _people_," (not of _two_ states, and a mere _fraction_
of the people;) 2d. "Over a District placed under _their_ control," i.e.
under the control of the _whole_ of the States, not under the control of
_two twenty-sixths_ of them. 3d. That it was thus put under their
Control "_for THEIR OWN benefit_," the benefit of all the States
_equally_; not to secure special benefits to Maryland and Virginia, (or
what it might be _conjectured_ they would regard as benefits.) 4th. It
concludes by asserting that the design of this exclusive control of
Congress over the District was "not for the benefit of the _District_,"
except as that is _connected_ with, and _a means of promoting_ the
_general_ advantage. If this is the case with the _District_, which is
_directly_ concerned, it is pre-eminently so with Maryland and Virginia,
who are but _indirectly_ interested, and would be but remotely affected
by it. The argument of Mr. Madison in the Congress of '89, an extract
from which has been given on a preceding page, lays down the same
principle; that though any matter "_may be a local affair, yet if it
involves national EXPENSE OR SAFETY, it becomes of concern to every part
of the union, and is a proper subject for the consideration of those
charged with the general administration of the government_." Cong. Reg.
vol. 1. p. 310, 11.

But these are only the initiatory absurdities of this "good faith
_implied_." The thirty-six senators aptly illustrate the principle, that
error not only conflicts with truth, but is generally at issue with
itself. For if it would be a violation of "good faith" to Maryland and
Virginia, for Congress to abolish slavery in the District, it would be
_equally_ a violation for Congress to do it _with the consent_, or even
at the earnest and unanimous petition of the people of the District: yet
for years it has been the southern doctrine, that if the people of the
District demand of Congress relief in this respect, it has power, as
their local legislature, to grant it, and by abolishing slavery there,
carry out the will of the citizens. But now new light has broken in! The
optics of the thirty-six have pierced the millstone with a deeper
insight, and discoveries thicken faster than they can be telegraphed!
Congress has no power, O no, not a modicum, to help the slaveholders of
the District, however loudly they may clamor for it. The southern
doctrine, that Congress is to the District a mere local Legislature to
do its pleasure, is tumbled from the genitive into the vocative! Hard
fate--and that too at the hands of those who begat it! The reasonings of
Messrs. Pinckney, Wise, and Leigh, are now found to be wholly at fault,
and the chanticleer rhetoric of Messrs. Glascock and Garland stalks
featherless and crest-fallen. For, Mr. Clay's resolution sweeps by the
board all those stereotyped common-places, as "Congress a local
Legislature," "consent of the District," "bound to consult the wishes of
the District," &c. &c., which for the last two sessions of Congress have
served to eke out scanty supplies. It declares, that _as slavery existed
in Maryland and Virginia at the time of the cession, and as it still
continues in both those states, it could not be abolished in the
District without a violation of 'that good faith_,' &c.

But let us see where this principle of the _thirty-six_ will lead us. If
"implied faith" to Maryland and Virginia _restrains_ Congress from the
abolition of slavery in the District, it _requires_ Congress to do in
the District what those states have done within their bounds, i.e.,
restrain _others_ from abolishing it. Upon the same principle Congress
is _bound_, by the doctrine of Mr. Clay's resolution, to _prohibit
emancipation_ within the District. There is no _stopping place_ for this
plighted "faith." Congress must not only refrain from laying violent
hands on slavery, _itself_, and see to it that the slaveholders
themselves do not, but it is bound to keep the system up to the Maryland
and Virginia standard of vigor!

Again, if the good faith of Congress to Virginia and Maryland requires
that slavery should exist in the District, while it exists in those
states, it requires that it should exist there _as_ it exists in those
states. If to abolish _every_ form of slavery in the District would
violate good faith, to abolish _the_ form existing in those states, and
to substitute a totally different one, would also violate it. The
Congressional "good faith" is to be kept not only with _slavery_, but
with the _Maryland and Virginia systems_ of slavery. The faith of those
states not being in the preservation of _a_ system, but of _their_
system; otherwise Congress, instead of _sustaining_, would counteract
their policy--principles would be brought into action there conflicting
with their system, and thus the true spirit of the "implied" pledge
would be violated. On this principle, so long as slaves are "chattels
personal" in Virginia and Maryland, Congress could not make them _real
estate_, inseparable from the soil, as in Louisiana; nor could it permit
slaves to read, nor to worship God according to conscience; nor could it
grant them trial by jury, nor legalize marriage; nor require the master
to give sufficient food and clothing; nor prohibit the violent sundering
of families--because such provisions would conflict with the existing
slave laws of Virginia and Maryland, and thus violate the "good faith
implied," &c. So the principle of the resolution binds Congress in all
these particulars: 1st. Not to abolish slavery in the District _until_
Virginia and Maryland abolish. 2d. Not to abolish any _part_ of it that
exists in those states. 3d. Not to abolish any _form_ or _appendage_ of
it still existing in those states. 4th. _To abolish_ when they do. 5th.
To increase or abate its rigors _when, how_, and _as_ the same are
modified by those states. In a word, Congressional action in the
District is to float passively in the wake of legislative action on the
subject in those states.

But here comes a dilemma. Suppose the legislation of those states should
steer different courses--then there would be _two_ wakes! Can Congress
float in both? Yea, verily! Nothing is too hard for it! Its
obsequiousness equals its "power of legislation in _all_ cases
whatsoever." It can float _up_ on the Virginia tide, and ebb down on the
Maryland at the same time. What Maryland does, Congress will do in the
Maryland part. What Virginia does, Congress will do in the Virginia
part. Though Congress might not always be able to run at the bidding of
both _at once_, especially in different directions, yet if it obeyed
orders cheerfully, and "kept in its place," according to its "good faith
implied," impossibilities might not be rigidly exacted. True, we have
the highest sanction for the maxim that no _man_ can serve two
masters--but if "corporations have _no_ souls," analogy would absolve
Congress on that score, or at most give it only _a very small soul_--not
large enough to be at all in the way, as an _exception_ to the universal
rule laid down in the maxim!

In following out the absurdities of this "_implied_ good faith," it will
be seen at once that the doctrine of Mr. Clay's Resolution extends to
_all the subjects_ of _legislation_ existing in Maryland and Virginia,
which exist also within the District. Every system, "institution," law,
and established usage there, is placed beyond Congressional control
equally with slavery, and by the same "implied faith." The abolition of
the lottery system in the District as an _immorality_, was a flagrant
breach of this "good faith" to Maryland and Virginia, as the system
"still continued in those states." So to abolish imprisonment for debt,
and capital punishment, to remodel the bank system, the power of
corporations, the militia law, laws of limitation, &c., in the District,
_unless Virginia and Maryland took the lead_, would violate the "good
faith implied in the cession," &c.

That in the acts of cession no such "good faith" was "implied by
Virginia and Maryland" as is claimed in the Resolution, we argue from
the fact, that in 1784 Virginia ceded to the United States all her
northwest territory, with the special proviso that her citizens
inhabiting that territory should "have their _possessions_ and _titles_
confirmed to them, and be _protected_ in the enjoyment of their _rights_
and liberties." (See Journals of Congress, vol. 9, p. 63.) The cession
was made in the form of a deed, and signed by Thomas Jefferson, Samuel
Hardy, Arthur Lee, and James Monroe. Many of these inhabitants _held
slaves_. Three years after the cession, the Virginia delegation in
Congress _proposed_ the passage of an ordinance which should abolish
slavery, in that territory, and declare that it should never thereafter
exist there. All the members of Congress from Virginia and Maryland
voted for this ordinance. Suppose some member of Congress had during the
passage of the ordinance introduced the following resolution: "Resolved,
That when the northwest territory was ceded by Virginia to the United
States, domestic slavery existed in that State, including the ceded
territory, and as it still continues in that State, it could not be
abolished within the territory without a violation of that good faith,
which was implied in the cession and in the acceptance of the
territory." What would have been the indignant response of Grayson,
Griffin, Madison, and the Lees, in the Congress of '87, to such a
resolution, and of Carrington, Chairman of the Committee, who reported
the ratification of the ordinance in the Congress of '89, and of Page
and Parker, who with every other member of the Virginia delegation
supported it!

But to enumerate all the absurdities into which the thirty-six Senators
have plunged themselves, would be to make a quarto inventory. We decline
the task; and in conclusion, merely add that Mr. Clay, in presenting
this resolution, and each of the thirty-six Senators who voted for it,
entered on the records of the Senate, and proclaimed to the world, a
most unworthy accusation against the MILLIONS of American citizens who
have during nearly half a century petitioned the national legislature to
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia,--charging them either with
the ignorance or the impiety of praying the nation to violate its
"PLIGHTED FAITH." The resolution virtually indicts at the bar of public
opinion, and brands with odium, all the Manumission Societies, the
_first_ petitioners for the abolition of slavery in the District, and
for a long time the only ones, petitioning from year to year through
evil report and good report, still petitioning, by individual societies
and in their national conventions.

But as if it were not enough to table the charge against such men as
Benjamin Rush, William Rawle, John Sergeant, Robert Vaux, Cadwallader
Colden, and Peter A. Jay,--to whom we may add Rufus King, James
Hillhouse, William Pinkney, Thomas Addis Emmett, Daniel D. Tompkins, De
Witt Clinton, James Kent, and Daniel Webster, besides eleven hundred
citizens of the District itself, headed by their Chief Justice and
judges--even the sovereign States of Pennsylvania, New-York,
Massachusetts, and Vermont, whose legislatures have either memorialized
Congress to abolish slavery in the District, or instructed their
Senators to move such a measure, must be gravely informed by Messrs.
Clay, Norvell, Niles, Smith, Pierce, Benton, Black, Tipton, and other
honorable Senators, either that their perception is so dull, they know
not what of they affirm, or that their moral sense is so blunted they
can demand without compunction a violation of the nation's faith!

We have spoken already of the concessions unwittingly made in this
resolution to the true doctrine of Congressional power over the
District. For that concession, important as it is, we have small thanks
to render. That such a resolution, passed with such an _intent_, and
pressing at a thousand points on relations and interests vital to the
free states, should be hailed, as it has been, by a portion of the
northern press as a "compromise" originating in deference to northern
interests, and to be received by us as a free-will offering of
disinterested benevolence, demanding our gratitude to the mover,--may
well cover us with shame. We deserve the humiliation and have well
earned the mockery. Let it come!

If, after having been set up at auction in the public sales-room of the
nation, and for thirty years, and by each of a score of "compromises,"
treacherously knocked off to the lowest bidder, and that without money
and without price, the North, plundered and betrayed, _will not_, in
this her accepted time, consider the things that belong to her peace
before they are hidden from her eyes, then let her eat of the fruit of
her own way, and be filled with her own devices! Let the shorn and
blinded giant grind in the prison-house of the Philistines, till taught
the folly of intrusting to Delilahs the secret and the custody of his

Have the free States bound themselves by an oath never to profit by the
lessons of experience? If lost to _reason_, are they dead to _instinct_
also? Can nothing rouse them to cast about for self preservation? And
shall a life of tame surrenders be terminated by suicidal sacrifice?

A "COMPROMISE!" Bitter irony! Is the plucked and hood-winked North to be
wheedled by the sorcery of another Missouri compromise? A compromise in
which the South gained all, and the North lost all, and lost it for
ever. A compromise which embargoed the free laborer of the North and
West, and clutched at the staff he leaned upon, to turn it into a
bludgeon and fell him with its stroke. A compromise which wrested from
liberty her boundless birthright domain, stretching westward to the
sunset, while it gave to slavery loose reins and a free course, from the
Mississippi to the Pacific.

The resolution, as it finally passed, is here inserted. The original
Resolution, as moved by Mr. Clay, was inserted at the head of this
postscript with the impression that it was the _amended_ form. It will
be seen however, that it underwent no material modification.

"Resolved, That the interference by the citizens of any of the states,
with the view to the abolition of slavery in the District, is
endangering the rights and security of the people of the District; and
that any act or measure of Congress designed to abolish slavery in the
District, would be a violation of the faith implied in the cessions by
the states of Virginia and Maryland, a just cause of alarm to the people
of the slaveholding states, and have a direct and inevitable tendency to
disturb and endanger the Union."

The vote upon the Resolution stood as follows:

_Yeas_.--Messrs. Allen, Bayard, Benton, Black, Buchanan, Brown, Calhoun,
Clay, of Alabama, Clay, of Kentucky, Clayton, Crittenden, Cuthbert,
Fulton, Grundy, Hubbard, King, Lumpkin, Lyon, Nicholas, Niles, Norvell,
Pierce, Preston, Rives, Roane, Robinson, Sevier, Smith, of Connecticut,
Strange, Tallmadge, Tipton, Walker, White, Williams, Wright, Young.


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