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The Federal Government

The Federal Government image
Parent Issue
Day
13
Month
April
Year
1848
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The Federal Government is the sovereign over Federal Territory. This is the South Carolina doctrine. The Federal Government cannot establish, and of course can delegate no power to establish, the law of slavery. This, too, is admitted by the slaveholders. – But slavery cannot exist, except by positive law, which has force alone within the jurisdiction of the State enacting it. This is the doctrine of Courts in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and other States; the doctrine recognized by the jurisprudence of civilized Powers generally; the doctrine affirmed by the supreme Court of the United States, and by the Judges of that bench, on their respective circuits. Therefore – and we challenge any lawyer, any man of common sense, to deny the inference from these premises – therefore, slavery cannot be legalized in any territory acquired from Mexico, the fundamental law of that territory, at the time of its acquisition, excluding slavery.
We say, the opponents of the extension of this curse would be thrown upon these great principles of the Constitution and of common law, for their main defence against its aggressions. Not a step could the slaveholders move towards the introduction of slavery in New Mexico and california, legally, without legislation by Congress – but if the friends of freedom have not strength enough in that body to pass an act positively prohibiting slavery in the Territory, they can easily defeat all legislation enabling it to obtain a legal settlement. This position of self-defence would be impregnable; but something more than maintaining this position would be necessary to make these great principles practically operative, completely effectual in preventing the contraband introduction of the system. It would be absolutely necessary to-have the Chief Executive chair filled by a man fully convinced of the soundness of the principles, and of capacity to give them effect. Hence the importance of sound constitutional opinions on this subject, in a candidate for the Presidential office. In view of the considerations we have presented, so far from the question of slavery-extension being of less importance in the Presidential election, of members of Congress, it is vastly more important. Sound in his constitutional opinions, if a bill containing the Anti-Slavery safeguard should pass Congress, it would receive the sanction of the President. If unsound, the beneficial policy of that body would be defeated. Sound in his principles, should Congress be unable to legislate on the subject, his Executive action would supply the lack of legislation. If unsound, even wholesome legislation would be jeopardized by this influence. – Slaves now are held in Oregon. Would this be, had we a Chief Executive of right principles and feelings on this question? Slaves now exist in the Indian Territory west of Missouri, and in the portion of Texas north of 36 deg. 30 min. Had we a President of right views and sufficient nerve, would not such instructions be given to government agents in those territories as would abate the nuisance? A pro-slavery or servile Executive would appoint such officers in the territories of New Mexico and California as would favor the illegal introduction of slavery. An Executive, sound in constitutional view, and energetic enough to do his duty, would appoint officers who would assiduously labor for the prevention of the growth of any illegal practice.
Need we say more? It is extreme folly to suppose that this question of slavery in its relations to the Government can be evaded. – The free States may agree not to consider it – not to enquire into, or care for, the views of a Presidential candidate concerning it. The slave States cannot be charged with any such wart of sagacity. Slaveholders know that the Government has been used for the purpose of fostering the interests of the system. They now demand, in disregard of the common law, and of the Constitution, the privilege of carrying it into free territory. First, they prevent all legislation agninst their design; next, they must have an Executive that shall favor it. – And what say the non-slaveholders? Oh, it is all wrong, wicked, foolish, ruinous, disgraceful; but they are distracted by demagogues, who are anxious to withdraw this question from Presidential politics. We have patriotic warnings against sectional questions, and tests calculated to array the North against the South – under cover of which a man slips into the Presidential chair, fully prepared to comply with, or wink at, all the exactions of slavery. All the while, the slaveholding interest has been united, arrayed against every opposing interest. Its supporters, pretending that opposition to it was sectional, illiberal, intolerant, have obtained the control of the General Government, to such an extent, that no man now can be selected as a Presidential candidate who is not understood to favor their policy. That policy is slavery extension – but, wherever slavery exists and thrives, free laborers are depressed, and driven out. Slave labor and free labor are clearly repugnant to each ; they cannot both co-exist and prosper. He who favors the extension of free labor must be hostile to the extension of slave labor, and vice versa. Now, do we not know that the slaveholding interest will sustain the claims of no man for the Presidency, who is an enemy to the extension of slavery? To suppose any thing else, is indicative of extreme fatuity. They demand a candidate who shall favor such extension, or not resist it? But such a candidate must be an enemy to the extension of free labor, in the territory into which it is proposed to introduce slavery. He cannot be friendly to both, favor both, promote both; love light and darkness, sustain contraries. And do the opposers of slavery think they can shake off the responsibility of meeting the slaveholders on this very issue? To evade it, to shrink from it, to declare that they will not make it a question, will not inquire into the opinions or policy of a Presidential candidate on the subject, will not suffer it to be made a test in the Convention for a nomination, is to abandon the cause of Freedom, to yield all that Slavery demands, to put themselves completely in the hands of slaveholders. To act positively for slavery is one form of pro-slavery. Not to act at all, simple non-resistance, when it is absolutely certain that slaveholders will support no man for the Presidency who will not allow them to carry slaves into free territory, is just as truly pro-slavery. Non-action, under such circumstances, is consent and participation in their acts. [National Era.]

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Subjects
Michigan Liberty Press
Old News