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Debate On The Jury Trial Bill

Debate On The Jury Trial Bill image Debate On The Jury Trial Bill image Debate On The Jury Trial Bill image Debate On The Jury Trial Bill image
Parent Issue
Day
9
Month
March
Year
1842
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The House took up the bilí extendiag the trial by jury to fugitivo slaves. Mr. Norvell, of Wayne, said, that this bill, which purported to extënd the right of trial by jury in certain cases, involved Bome of the most important and delicate relations which could subsist between this state and the southern statee of this union. It involved, in fact, a question whether this Etate shoulcl adopt a measurc whose tendency was lo produce a dissolution of the Union. And was this a time for this House to pursue such acourse? When the abolitionists of the north had cast forth a circular or proclamation, inviting a certain species of population of the Eouth to desert their owners, and to commit theft, to steal any thing which might be necessary, to enable them to escape, and seck refuge in the arms of their abolition friends of the eastand the north; could the democratie House of Representatives of Michigan lend their countenancc, by the paseage of such a bill as this, to such atrocious conduct towards our southern fellow citizens? The newspaperB had given currency to the fast, that such a circular, and and nn inviiation had been given to the slaves of the South. It had been made the theme of pulpit eloquence; and he had no doubt of the reality of the report. Here, at this luto bour, of the last night of the sossion, was a bill containing some fifteen or twenty Bectione, involving important legal provisión?, and striking at the safety of the Union, about to be considered, and hastily passed, without examina-; tion, without discussion, and when this house bad already decided, at an early period of the session, that the existing laws were sufficient for the protection of the rights and liberties of every person in the State . He therefore, moved the indefinite postponernont of the bill, but afterwards varied the proposition by moving tolay the bill on the table. Mr Gunning, of Wayne, was an abolitionist in sentiment, but not a political abolitionist; and while he recollected that a hog or a horse was entitled to a trial by jury, he would not refuse an equal privilege to a human being. Mr. Hewitt, of Washtenaw, supported the bill. It had been petitioned for by a jarge portion of the people ofthisatate. Mr. Chipman, of St. Joseph, looked upon this question as the most tnighty which could agítate the Union. It was an infringement upon the contitutional rights of the south - that compromiso which 6ecured the foundation of the republic. This was a question of open abolitionism. He denicd that any man on this iloor was strictly free. Freedom is appreciaied according to the intellectual elevation of tnose who enjoy it. He would notencourBge the brutal slaves of the eouth to come on here for their freedom. The people here dtd not want a black populationf and he would leave them where they are, depending upon their freedom, for the progresB of civilizalion and morality. If this queslion of abolitionism is pressed, it will soon terminate in drenching the land with blood. Mr. Ilowell, of Hillsdale, was not an abolitionist, but he maintained the principie of this bill. He believed that every queelion like that conterapiated by this bill should be referred to a jury. It has been said that the writ of babeas corpus could be had ; but how is it, whon they are kidnapped, as fugitives generally are? Of what avail then is a writ of habeas corpus? He, then, would sustain this bill, as one involving an important principie. Mr. Crary, of Calhoun, regretted that there was so linie time to discuss this bill.He belicved tlmt ibis wholo matter was vesled in the courts of the United States. Congress had so suppossd and eo legislated. Il is uot necessary tben fur tbia legislature to interfere in the matter. Congress is the proper tribunal to decide upon tbis question. But this bill interferes with the writ of habeas corpus, and in an unconstitutional tnanner. He hoped this bill might not be urged. It was possible this House had a right to pass thia bill. Somo whig legislatuie had paseed such a bill, but no democratie legislature ever had . It is not their cu8tom to mterfere with the quiet relations of the Union, and he hoped the legislature f Michigan would not be the first to do 20. Mr. Norvell, of Wayne, changed hts motion, eo as lay the bill upon the tablc. Tbis motioa was lost - ayes 21, noes 26. The question tecurred upon the final passage of the bill. Mr. Lothrop, of Kalamazoo, propoeed an amendment requiring the ola i mant to pay nllcc8ts,if he fchall Dot sustain hie claim. Carried. Mr.Stuart, of Kulamazoo, rogrelted that this bill had not been laid on the table, - The time of the House should be otherwise occupied. This is a questioa which should be deliberately acted upon. None is more important. He knew there was an abstract feeling in favor of a right of trial by jury - without reflection and deliberation. It is the basis of abolitionism, which looks upon slavery as an evil, and demands its eradication, although to do so may dissolve the union in blood. It is not every thing that is evil which can be struck out at a blow with safety. He regretted that this unfortunate bill had been brought up at this unfortunate moment. He knew that some were in favor of this bill, and that others had not the moral courage to vote against it. The evil of slavery is a great evil, but there are greater, The violation of the constitution was such an evil. The constitution recognizes slavery, and it provides that no state sball exempt them from slavery 6imply because they have fled within their border. Acting under this provisión, Congress has passed laws regulating the, marmer of recovering fugitives. This power was not enjoyad by the states. Mr. S. alluded to the evil of slavery and the difiïculty experienced by the pa triota of the republic in adjusting the difficulties which they foresaw might grow out of it. One of those then, was the regulation now Bought to be infringed upon. Mr. S. alluded, alao to the habeas corpus - an action under which no cilizen could demand a trial by jury. Yet this bill proposes lo give to colorad fugitives what is denied to white citizens. ts this right? Mr. S. also alluded to the recent action of certain abolitionists in New York, rccommending theft to the fugitives. - They fanned the ember which this bill proposed to feed. But what will be the practical effect of this bill? Suppose thirty men arrive here with their epoile, and are arraigned here beforea jury. These jurymen would be probably ubolitionists. If so, would it be possible for a man ever to convince such men that his property should be iur rendered? What then? Thefirst jury is dissolved, and r like jury is reorganized. So for five euccessive effbrts - by which time a riot is excited which no military could quell. Now. is this neceSBary? - The judges of the U. S. courte, are men of sound sense and research, and are gentlemen prepared to say that such men will not do justice to all concerned ? If there is a man upon the floor, who can come to the conclusión that he hiraself is safe under the writ of Imheae corpus, and that a elave is not equally safe, he uses strange logic. That law has ever been deeraed a triumph of liberty - of personal rights. But this right is now declared to be insufficieut to protect the rights of fugitive slaves! Let gentlemen act deliberately upon this grave qoestion, and profiMng by the experience of the past and the present, he hoped this 3Í11 would not be passed. Mr. Bush, of Livingston, moved to lay this bill upon the table. Carried - ayes 24, nays IS.REMAR KS. 05-We publisb the above debate on thii bilí, as reported in the Advertiser. Thit discuesion took place, Feb. 16, the last áay but one of the eession. Let the reader beai in mind, that the pbecisb object asked for by the petitioners was the extensión of a jury trial to every human beingin the State, 10 all cases where his or her personal líberty was concerned . A Jury trial is guaranteed to the inhabilants of this State by the U. S. Conatitution, the Ordinance 1787, and our State Constitution; aod all the petitioners asked for veas a law carryiiig nto effect that provisión of our State Conslitutien, which declares, tbat 'in all cuses in wliich personal liberty may be invol ved, thq tri&j bv ury shali, kot bb BBfu::;}. Vas not tbfs i reasoqablp Tncsl? Let us coneider the '-Sients against it.Abgxjmknt No. 1. "The tendency of th moasure was to produce a disaolution of tb Unioal" Aetonishing - granting a jury tria ia Michigan will dissolve the Uaion! Letth people remember they are indebted to Hon John Norvell, Ex-Senator n Congrees for thifl pisce of timely iofsrmation. Pray Mr. Norvell, why did you uot tbink of tha when the clause of our State Constitutie above referred lo wne adopted? You was raember of tbat body, and sbould have looke well to the Bftfety oí the Union. You ough firat to have humbly begged leave of you eouthern maeters, to enuctajury trial la for citizens of our own Suto. Arqumeht No. 2 is, that eome naught abolitioniete in New York State advise th slavea to' run away from their maptcre, an( to be careful not to starve or freexe to deat wbile on their journey: therefore,the conelu eion ie irreeistable, that the citizens of Mich igan ougbt not to have a jury trial. Uaan Bwerable logicü! Auqüment No; 3. "The House had re fused to do any thing on the subject, at an early period of the sossion: therefore, they ought to do nothing about it now." W answer, the more sharac for them. Argument No. 4. To grant a juiy tria to all our citizens, "is an nfringetnent o the rights of theïSouTH." Wkere is the en of northern servility and olaviahnese! V should like to hear Mr. Chipman eustain bi position - if he can! You ehall be bean through the Signal, jf you please, Mr Chip man. What do you 8ay to our offer? Argument No. 6, is that "abolitioniam will soon termínate in drenebmg the !an with bloodl" therefore all our citizensough not to have a jury trial. A moet convincin demonstrp.tion, is'nt it? Euclid might hav taken lessons of th gentleman from St Joseph. But, dear nir, do infortn us vh intends to shed bo much blood ia case a jur trial should be granted? Argument No. 6 declare a jury tria ought not to b extended to all our popula tion, because "Congreso is the proper tribu nal to decide upon this cuestión." Indeec We in our eímplicity eupposcd that it wa piopar for the State Legislatura to mak law s respecting jury trials, and we areno yet prepared to give it up, ven though Hon Isaac E. Cbart eliould be of a contrary opinión, Argumbwt No. 7 is unanswerable. I seto forth that "eome whrg legiBlature ha passed such a bilí, but no democratie legis lature ever has." Here again we wor caught by our simplicity. We were no aware before tbat democratie legieiators dis carded a jury trial? How long has this been tho democratie creed, Mr. Crary? Had we known that a hostility to the jury trial syBtem was a settled point in democracy, we might have spared oursehes tbe troubl of petitioning our present Legislatura. One thing ib certain: not a few of the patitionere will hereaftor spare themselvee the disgrace of voting for Buch members.Argument No. 8 goes againstajary tri el law bscause such a law "is tbo basis of ab olitionism." Then abolttioniem has a goo foundation. Abolitionism ''looks upon sla very as an eril, and demande ito immcdiatc eradicalion, although to do eo may diseolve the Union." This is but another förm o eaying that abolicionista are endeavoring to excite a civil war, and thus free the slaves It is an atrocious faleehood, and Mr. Stuart knew it to be ae. The petitiooers from Kalamazoo are as respectare, intelligent, and patriotic a class as can be found in the County, and Mr. S. ia wal 8raF of it; and ehonldany of them hereafter support euch a liballer of their principies for any official situation, they will show lees self respect Ihan we a nticipate from them. Argument No. W,- 'The constitution recognizes elavcry, and it provides (hat no State Bhall exempt slaves from elavery sirnply because tbey have fled within their border." Wno aaks for their exemption fromlavery The petitíoners do not. Theyask that our citizeng who may be arrested ae laves, raaybe tried bj a jury of 12 men, and apportumty given for examination of witoessee, procuring of counsel, and all the safe. guarde to which the elaveholder would be obliged to submit, wore he to claim the colored ïnati's hor se instead of the man hinaeelf. Is not the liberty of a man deservinj of as much lega) sscurity as the possession of a horst or a dog? Arüdment No. 10, contendí, that bccause the white people are safe u:cr the wnt of habeat corpus, thersfore colored people are. But 5 Oot white people enjoy a jürj trial n every case? The pracical opsration is widely different, thus; When a white man ia ia custody, he may be brought before a Judge on a writ of habeas corpus,and if the Judg thinke bis deteution Ilegal, be will diaoharge bim: but if legal- what tb on! Why be will consign bim to the offícer, or to prison, to await hi trial, for the ofïence alledged, by twelre of hin peere, at the regular term of the court. But fa coJored mtn, elave or frec, is seized by a elave catcher, and brought before the eame Judge on a habeas corpus writ, if he be illegally detained, be will be dificharged, just as the white man wae; bat if legally - will he be committed to prison til the court shall git, and the fact wbether he ie a slavc be tried by tivelre freemen uader oath? No eueh thing - but he is instanlly earried out of the State, usually in the night to avoid excitemeut, and the fact whether be is legally a slave, ia cerer after tfards enquired i ato for a single moment. The cases then, are by no meaos parallel . The,! iberty of the white man i protected by a jury trial : that of the colored man is not. Abgumbkt No. 11, aesumes, that the practical effect of a jury trial would be bad Why! Because it is pretty certain that the first jury would bs all abolitionists, and they could not be convinced of the rightofman to hold propcriy in human beings. And fire suecessive juries woald be abolitioniets, anc would not give up the niggore, and lhe0 there "would be a riot excitad whicb on military could quell." Indeed! we were not aware that abolitioniets were eo numerous that they compose all our juries. If they are as thick in Kalaraazoo as Mr. S. represente we advue him to be careful how he standers ibera any morel Argument No. 12, declarea that the judgL-B of the U. S. Courts are men of bouoc eenso, and research, and will do justice te all concerned, and therefore there is no neec of a jury trial! What a miserable pretext is thial Why not do away with all jury trial, and let the judges decide ia all cases between white men, without the intorveation of a needlcss jury? We have Mr. Stuart's word for it that justice ehall be done! He aya (they are men of sound senso and research and are gentlemen prepared to eay tbat such men will not do justice to all concerned?' Will Mr. Stuart go to the full extent of bis argument- for the abo! it ion of all jury trial? But w&'are tired of following such a train of miserable aubterfuges. W say to our Legislatura, that they need not expect to dodge responsibility by such apológica tor argument, or by laying the subject on the table. They must meet it, for it will meet them, very eeseion regularly till they do their duty.

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Subjects
Signal of Liberty
Old News