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District Of Columbia: Terms Of Cession, &c.

District Of Columbia: Terms Of Cession, &c. image
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In nearly every place where the subject ol slavery and its aholition has been agitated, we aro met with the objection that "Congress has no power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. because the terms on which that District was ceded forbid it." It is contended that "Virginia and Maryland, n the terms of cession, reserved the right of private property in Slaves," and consequently placed the subject beyond the jurisdiction of Cougres. To tbis we reply- That the'cessions were mada in view of the eighth section of the constitution, waich declares, that Congress shnll have power to exercise "exclusive jurisdiction in all cases lohatiocver over such District," and as the constitution. is the supreme law of the land. every act of State legislation, incompatible withls_j)r2YJsions. must of course be huífññcT'void. The concusión therefore ia irresistible, that whatever the lawmaking power is competent to do any where, Congress can do in the District of Colum. bia. But we copy so much of the acts of cession themsclves. as bear at all on the question, from which it will appear that the supposed limitation does not, in fact, eist. Act of Cessiyn from Marylvnd. Dec. 23, 1788, the General Assembly voted, "That the Representatives of this State, &c. be. and they are hereby authorized and required, on the behalf of this State, to cede to Congress of the United Si ates, any District in this S'ato, not e.tceeding ten miles square, which Congress may iix upon and accept lor the seat of government of the United States." Act of Cession f rom Virginia. Dee. 3. 17Ö9, the General Aseembly enacled, t:TIat a t n t of countiy.not exr eding ten miles square, nor nr.y lrs i.nnii-y, &,. „„.j; be, an the same is, heruby forever ceded nnd relinquished to the Corigress and gnvernment of the United States, in f. dl and absolute right, and exclusive juiiidiction, us wdl ofsoil as of persons reñding or to reside thercon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the first articleof tho constitution of the government of the United States. "Provided, Thatnothing herein corltained shall be construed to vest in the United States ths right of property in the soil, or to"aifect the right of individuals therein. otherwise than the sanio shall or mav be transferred by such individuals to the United States. "And provided also, That the jurisdiction of the laws of the conimonwealth, over the persons and property of individuals residmg within tho limils of the cession aforesmd, 6hall not cease or determine until Congress kaving accepted tha snid cession, shall, by law. provide for the government thereof, under thcir jurisdiction. in manner provided by the article of the constitution before cited." it will here be soen that Maryland annexes to the ecs-sien, no provino w'kmcvzt, uutf Virginia none but a reservation of the right of property in the soil, and the rights of individuals thcrein, ■-i. e. in the soil, and a proviso that the laws of Virginia should remain in force in the ceded terrttory, till the acceptance of the ecssion, nnd tho enactment by Congre-s, of other Iaw3 for its gorernment. Neither of these proviso3. limits, or attemptsto limit, the legislative power of Congress, but both the reference in the act of ecssion to the section of the constitution g.ving that power, and the proviso in rclation to the temporary continuI anee of the Virginia laws. clearly imply the vaI derslanding of Virginia, that the power wa#i:ü unlimited. The same understanding in the mir-1' of Con gress is evident frora the provisión''1 the act oi acceptance. by wbich the laws jt the respcctiv States ehould remain in f-'c' each 'n ''s twD portion of hc District, A Congress should oi. wise by law provit'" ,;.,. „ _, ■ , ' j :t appcars that the authonty of From the ni , . ._. . , 1. r the subject of Slavery in the Dis Conpress o , . , . , , . . . . fcct and absolute, ana that she has thí ,, power to abolish slnvery there, that the old 'tntinental Congress had to abolish it in the North-Western Territory, or that the elavebold' ing States have to abolish slavory within theif own jurisdiction. [CTWo have just transenbed our subsejiptioï book. Somc errors may have occurrad, and 6bould any subEcribors not rewift thtir ptjw thsy will plenw notify Q


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