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Minority Report

Minority Report image
Parent Issue
Day
13
Month
April
Year
1848
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Tliat the facts in this case are diatinctly set fonh in the report of the majority, viz : - " That Pacheco was the ovvner of a negro slave named Lew3, who was hired by an officer of the army, duly authorized, from his owner, as an interpreter and guide to the defealed command of Major Dade; that he was one of the few survivorsof the disastrous defeat of that command, and remained eilher voluntarily or as a capüve amongst the hostile Indians until the spring of 1837, wlien he accompanied Jumper, a Seminóle chief, to one of our military posts in Florida; that he was then claimed by his owner, and the military commander. in whose control he was, refused to deliver him lo his owner, and ordered that he he sent witli the Indians to the West; because he deemed his transportaron proper, inasmtich as he was considered capable of exercising an injurious influence over the Indians; and thus, in pursuance of this order, he was transponed to the West, and his owner thereby deprived of his value." [The committee, adniitting, for the sake of argument, that the slave was property, deny the validity of the claim, on the ground that the officer transcended his authority. - They then proceed - ] Bul questions of the most grave importance seem legitimately involved in this case. The character of slavery and the constitutional relation which the Federal Government and the people of the free States hold to that nst'rtution, must necessarily be determined before we can arrivcat a salisfactory conclusión upon the case presented. lst. As to the character of slavery. In the earlier ages, many nations of the earth regarded war as the only honorable employment of man. When prisoners were captured it was supposcd that the victor had the iegitiniate right to deprive thern of lile, or to save the life of the prisoner and hold him as a filave. Thus slavery is regarded by most writers as one of the resulting consequences of war. The prisoners captured were held by physical force, and vvhenever they made their escape they búcaro-e free. To effect tlieir e3cnpe, they might use any means witbin their power, provided they did not injure innocent persons. The practice of taking prisoners of war continúes to this day, bul the holding of prisoners as slaves bas long since ceased among civilized nations, although it bas but recently been abandoned by the seini-barbarians of Algiers and Tunis. The practice of seizing upon the unofFending people of África, and bringing them to the American continent and holding them as slaves, followed the abrogation of that of holding prisoners of w=ir in perpetual servitude; and although tire importation of slaves to these States has been interdicted by law since the year 1803, t is still openly continued by one of the Governments on the American continent, and clandestinely practised by citizens of other Governments. The inhabitants of África are seized in violation of the dictates of humanity and of the natural rights of man. They are torn from (heir native land by physical force, and, vvhile on board the slave-ships, are held in subjection by chaina and feiters. It is perfectly clear that they had at all times the most indisputable right to release themselves from bondage by any means which God and nature had placed within their power. That right descended to their offspring, and still continúes. They owe noallegiance vvhatever to our Government ; it has never extended to ihem ts protection, and can demand from them, by no principie of reason or justice, eny support. Thus, it is said, with great force, that slavery is a state of war between the sJave and those who oppress them. All his feelings are opposed to the laws and the Government which holds him in subjection. Thus the slave, (Lewis,) whose master now claims at the hand of Congress a compensalion for his body, was held in servitude by the local laws of Florida, which authorized master to chastise him obedience to Liis own will. To his master, nor to the Govenmtent o-f Florida, nor to that of the United States, was he undep any moral obligatio'.is of Iriendship or obedience. He had the most clear and indisputable moral right to relieve himsclf from servitude at the earliest practicable moment. When he joined the enemy, alter Dade's defeat, his master, the Government, and the laws of Florida, lost their control over him. He then became free. From that time, he acted in concert wiih our enemies, and was one of them. Had he been slain in battle, no one would have supposed the United States liable to the master. When he submitted to our arms, together with his Iridian allies, he did so an enemy, and thereby bec.une a " prisoner of war," in the same marnier and emiiled t the same rights and la which his fellow-prisoners were entiiled. The officer in command was fully aulhorized to extend to him the same terms ofcapitulation which he extended to others. Those tenns had beon prescribed and made known both to him and to the Indians. - Those propositions were, that they should emigrate west of the Mississippi. In these terms there were no exceptions. (See Doe. 225, 3d session 25th Congress.) Under these stipulations, and the pledged faiih of the Government, he submilted as a prisoner of war to an officer of the U. States. It is said that the petitioner then claimnd him. What claim had he to the prisoner? The aoawer is, that he had no more claim to the negro than tho negro would have had to the mastt;r, hnd he been taken prisoner by the enemy. Having been free, there was no law of Florida, or of the Federal Government, by which he could have been re-enslaved. - There is no practica or usage of civilized nations at ibis day which could justify the reenslaving of this man Lewis. It would have uedected dishonor upon the Government to have violated its fuith by enslaving those prisoners who had come in under the promise of being transponed west of the Mississippi. - The officer to whom he surrendered was not authorized by any law to decide upon the fact of his being a slave. There was no mark by which he could ascertain whetherthe prisoner had been a slave or not. Tlie question of his right to liberty could not be legally passed upon or decided by a military oilïcer in the service of the United Stales. That would have been a judicial queslion, could it have been raised, which no mere military officer of this Government was authorized to determine. If the petitioner had any legal right to the custody of the man Levvis, (which is by no means admitted,) it was his duty to have enforced it by judicial process, by which the negro could have been brought before competent oulhority, and the legal claim of the petitioner could have been detennined. But the undersigned deny that the pet'uioner co'd stand bj and see the negro carried beyond the Mississipui, and then turn round, and, as a consequence of his own neglect, cali on ihe Government to pay him for such servant. - Again : the negro was neither killed nor maimed.but was discharged out of custody by theofficer, and the petitioner may now enforce his claim to him, if he has any. There is the slave; if the petitioner has liad any legal right to him since he was taken, that right remains unimpaired, and the petilioner is at full liberty to enforce t judicially ; but while he thus sleeps upon his rights, the undersigned are unable to discover any good cause vvhy the Government should award him a corapensation for said slave. These objeclions present theinselves to the imdersigned as insuperable, at ihe very threshold of the case. Beside these difficuhies, however, there are other consideiations, which address theinselves with great solemnity to the judgment of the comrnittee. The legislativo branch of this Government are now called upon to recognise slaves as property under the Constiiulion of the United States, and ihe undersigned have therefore examined tliis part of ihe case with some care. It is undoubtedly tiue, ihat during the earlier ages, slaves were regarded by many nations as a species of property. Indeed, we find that as lateas 1749, Lord Chancellor Hardwick decided that trover lay fora West India slave, before the coiirls of Great j ain. But such was the progress of public opinión, that, in 1772, Lord Mnnsfield, with the unanimous concurrence ol all the judges of the King's llench, decided, in th celebrated case of Somerset, (see 2ö State Trials) that a slave brought upon Brilish soil became i ipso facto free. In his closing remarks, lie said : " The state of slavcnj is of such a, nature that it is incaptiblc of bcing introduccd on any reasons, moral or poliiical, bul onbj by positive luw. It is so odious ihat nothing can J be suffered to support il but positive luw." - Frorn the time of Lord Harwick's decisión lo that of Lord Mansfield, no act of Parliament had changed the English law in any respect whatever, and the rerolution in the judicial branch of Government resulled entirely from the force of public sentiment. - Yet slaves were at that time held in all the colonies which subsequently fonned the states of this Union at the time of adopting the Constitution. But the patriot of that day were rnsprred with the great and important trulhs relating to the rights of man. The Convention which put forth our Declaralion of Independence on the 4th July, 1776, proclaimed tliose great principies, which challenged the admiration of iha world. They declared it to be a "self-evident" truth, " thnt men were born free and equal, wilh ceiiain inalienable rights, among which were life, liberty and the pursuitof happiness; that, to protect those rights, Governments are formed among men, deriving their just powers from the j sent of the governed." No form of language could more forcibly deny that man can be made property than this decluration of the 1 ges of American freedom. In 17S7, the Convention met to frame our Federal Constitution ; and it is lm port rit to j understsnd the light in which they vie'vved this nuestion. Mr. Madison, in bis Papers, informa us i that on " Wednesday, August 22d, the I vention proceeded to consider the report of the Committee of Detail in relation lo duties on exports, a capitation tax, and a navigation act. The fourth section reported was as follows : " No tax or duty sliall be laid by the Legislature on anieles exported from any State, nor on the migration nor importation of sucli pe.isons as theseveral States shall tliink proper to admit ; nor shall sucli migración nor importation be proliibited.' " Mr. Gerry tbought we bad ootbiog to do vvith the conduct of the States as to slavery, but we ought to be carrful not to give any sanction. " Mr. Sherman was opposed to any tax on slaves importedi as making the matter worse, bccause it imphed properly. " The whole subject was again cornmitted to a committee of eleven, whicli, August 24th reported as follows, concerning the 4ib section : " ' Strike o-ut so much of tho 4th section as was refeired to the commitlee, and insert, " the migration or importation ofsucb persons as the several States now existing shall think pioper to admit, shall not be proliibited by the Legislature prior to the year 1S00, but a tax may be imposed on sucli migration or importaron, at a rate not exceed'mg the average of the duties laid on import.'1 " " The next day the report was taken up, and anuended, by subslituting IS03 for 1S00, and the first part was then adopted. " Mr. Gorliam tbought Mr. Sherman sbo'd consider the duty not as imphjing that slaves are property, but as a discouragement to the importation of them." The discussion, it will be observed, turned upon tho peculiar phraseology of the second part of the report, wbich, in classifying slaves with merchandise, seemed lo imply that tbey were property. No one expressed a desire that such an idea sbould be embodied in the Constitution ; on the contrary, there was a manifest clesire on the part of the rnembers of the Convención to explain the phraseology as to exclude the construclion given to it by Mr. Sherman. Mr. Madison, it scems, agreed with that gentleman. He then reports himself: " Mr. Madison thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution, the idea that there could be property in man. "Colonel Masón, (in answer to Mr. Gouverneur Morris.) The provisión, as it now stands, was ncccssary for the cose of convicts, in order to prevent tlie introduction of lliem. " Stil!, the Convention was not satisfie.l, and it was finally agreed, nem. con., to have the clause read : " ' But a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each j)erson.' " And then ilie second part, as amended, was agreed to." And thus it stands to this day. This is one o! me most important facts on record. It demónstrales beyond all doubt, the settled purpose of iheFederal Convention carefully lo exelude froin the Constitution ihey were framing the idea that there could be property in man ; and that the term "persons" was used wlien slaves were referretl to, with the intention that, so far as the Constitution was concerned, they were always to be regarded as persons, and not a property. Mr. Sherman was opposed to the clause, " as acknowledging mento be property. Mr. Madison was also opposed to il, because he " thought it WRONG TO ADMIT IN THE CoNSTITUTION THE IDEA THAT THEUE COULD BE PROPERTY IN MAN." And the clause was so amended to exclude, in express terms, the idea that there could be property in man. These views appear to have fully accorded with the public sentiment of that period. In every inslance in which reference to slaves is made in the Constitution, they are termed ■persons. Thus, in fixing the ratio of representation, it provides that "the number shall be ascertained by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, ane excluding Iridians not. taxed, three-fifths of all othcrj'crsons." It is clear that the framers not only regnrded slaves as persons, but they were spoken of as othcr persons - thus placing lliem upon the same general basis as freemen. In the 9th seciion of the lstarticle, the Constitution provides that " the migration or i,mporlation of such persons as any of the States shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohtbited until the year 1S08," &c. Here, again, the language is carefully used to distinguish slaves f rom properly. Again : in the 2d seciion of the 3d article, ihe Constitution provides : " No person held to service or labor i;i one State under the laws thereof, and into anoiher, shall, by any law or regulation thereof, be discharged iïom such service or labor." Thus, in every instance in which the Constitution refers to slaves, they are designated as persons, contradistinguishing them from property. We are not only informed that the framers of the Constitution regarded it as wrong to admit in the Constitution " that there could be property in man," but they carefully employed such language, in framing that instrument, as to exclude such an idea. The undersigned regard this subject as separated from all uncertainty or doubt; so that any man who carefully examines it must be convinced that to regard slaves as property, under our Federal Constitulion, would be to pervert the language of the Consiitution, and to defeat the recorded intention of those who framed it. The undersigned are further confirmed in this conclusión by the decisión of ibis point by the highest judicial authority known to the Constitution. In the case of Groves vs. Slaughter and others, (15 Peter's Reports, 449,) ibis question came dislinctly bofore the Supreme Court of the United States. The Constitulion of Mississippi had prohibited the introduction of slaves into that State after a certain day. Slaves were taken there and sold on a credit after the timeallowed by the Constitulion of that State. Suit was commenced on the note given n consideration of the slaves. The deletie? was, that the iract was Ilegal and void under the Constitution of that State, which prohibiled tlie sale therein of slaves from without the State. - The reply was, that slaves was property, and therefore the State of Mississippi bad no power to probibit their introduction into the State, as the power to regúlate commerce aetween the States belonged only to Congress. In decidinjr the law, Juilge McLean said : " By the laws of ;ertain States, slaves are treated as property ; and the Constitution of Mississippi prohibits their being brought into that State by citizens of other States for sale as moreliandiso. Merchiudise is a comprehensive term, and may include every article oí traffic, whether foreign ordomestic, which is properly embraced by a commercial regulation. But if slaves are considered in soitie of the States as nierchandise, that cannot divest tbem of the leading and controlling quality of persons, by which they are designated in the Constitulion. The clwracter of the property is given them by the local law. This law is respected, and all rights under it are protected by the Federal authorities ; but the Constitution acts upon slaves as persons, md not as property." If slaves be property, t follow3 that Congress may regúlate the iter-State slave trade. Tliey may probibit the transportaron of slaves from one State to another ; or they may authorize the establishment of slave 'markets in each State of the Union, under such regulalions as may bedeemed reasonable. If slaves under our Constitution, be regarded as property, then, indeed, no individual State bas power to prohibit slavery wiihin its jurisdiction. The Constitutions of several States declare that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntaiy servitude within such State. - But if slaves be regarded as property under our Federal compact, then no State of the Union has power to consécrate its soil to IVeedom. No State can, under the Federa Constitution, exclude horses or property o any kind from being brought into itand sold lf, therefore, slaves be property, they may be trasponed to New York orNew England and held there, and sold like other property But those who regard slave3 as property, wil hardly contend for such a right. The undersigned are conscious tbat doubts on this subject have long existed in the raind3 of some statesmen and jurists who have been born and educated in States whereslaves are held to be property by force of the local lavvs. Being accustomed to regard tliem as property, they draw no distinction between the lavvs of the slave States and those of the Federal Government. Persons thus educated in the slave States, coming into the office of President, or into eiiher of the Executive departrnents, or into either House of Congress, are likely to bring with them the views imbibed in such States. Thus we find that in some instances the President of the Uuited States and other officers of the Government have at times, without examination, regarded slaves as property, and, in some instances, have paid the public funds tbr such slaves, not only without authority of law, but in opposition to the spirit and the letter of the Federal compact. The saine officers, after having their attention called parlicularly to the subject, have seen their error, changed their practice, and refused to regard slaves as property. So also, in some of our treaties, slaves are referred to in connection with other property. Thus our treaty with Great Britain, of 1814, speaks of " negroes or other property :" so, too, in some of our treaties wilh the Indians, the same language is used. But in all these cases, the undersigned have reasons to believe the framers of these treaties neither exarnined the subject, nor is it probable that they even thought of any distinction between the relation which the Federal Government holds to slavery, and that maintained by the Government of the slave States. And it is proper to reinark, that, in making treaties with foreign nations, the Government is controlled solely by the law of nations. Under these circumstances, the undersigned feel that the language employed in those treaties can form no precedent lor the discharge of our legislative duties when this precise question is preseted for our decisión. It is also the case that in some instances the courts in free States have carelessly applied to slaves the term ' property." But the comrmttee have searched in vain for a case in which slaves are decided to be property under the Federal Consthution. It is believed that no court, either of the free or of the slave States, or of the United States, have made decisions to that extent, while it has already been shown that the Snpreme Court of the United States have decided that ;hey are not property. Nor are tliey regarded merely as property in any of the slave States. In every State of the Union they are punished for crimes under the State laws ; such is no'. the case wilh any species of property. Murdermay be committed upon slaves in any State, and the murderer hanged therefor. But no such punislrnent applies to the killing of any other species of property. - Slaves in such States are, however, for certain purposes under their laws, regardfid as a " peculiar lánd of proper ly." But the laws of those States are local, and have no hearing upon the relation which the Federal Government holds to the institulion. Slavery is the creature of municipal law, and can extend no farther than such municipal enactment has force. It is, therefore, strictly confined to the jurisdiction creating it. So stricily is this rule of law observed by courts ofjusiice, that if a slave escape froni bis master on to free soil, but for a moment, he becomes free forever. Thus, in the case of Forbes vs. Cochran et al., (vide 2 Bnrnwell 5c Creswell, 443,) Bayley, justice, remarked : " Slavery is a local law, and, therefore, if a man vvisli to preserve bis slaves, let him attach thetti to him byaffection, or make fast the bars oflheir prison, or rivet well their chains ; for the instant they get beyond the limits where slavery is recognised by the local laws, they have broken their chains - they have escaped from their -they are free." The same principies were decided in the case of Somerset, (see 20th vol. State Trials,) and are recognised by the courts of the United States, and by thosa of nearly all of the several States ol lilis Union. (Ste 2 Marshall, Kep., 457 ; lst Leigh, Uep., 172; Gilmer's Rep., 143; 2 Mumford, 393 ; 5ih Read's Rep., 126 ; Walker'a Ühlutissippi Reps., 30.) Ia the latter caso tlie court say : " Slavery ís condemned bij reason and the laws of nature. Il exists and can exisl onhj through municipal rcgulations." Propcrty may be taken by the owner from one State to another, or íroin one nato anoiher; but f a man voluntarily take his slave, or send him to a free State, the moment he enters such State he becomes a free man. From that moment the master's power over him ceases, and he can no more be enslaved. Bul the undersigned feel that it is the duty of statesmen to mete out justice witli an even hand to all the People of our Government. In order to do tliis, long-existing usages and vvell established precedents must be followed. Inatability in legislation erales distrust, and destroys confidence in the legislative body. The undorsigned have, thereíore, looked into the former practice of Congress on lilis subject, and they find but one principie has ever been acknowledged by Congress, in regard to the question under consideration. - The legislative branch of Government has never regarded slave as property, nor has any claim for the payrnent of slaves, either lost or killed in the public service, been paid by law of Congress, exeppt, perhaps, in one or two instances. The only law which the undersigned have found is the case of Depeyster, which passed thfi House of Representatives vviihout discussion or examination, at the lst session 2Sth Congress. (See laws of that session.) It is within the personal knowledge of at least one of the undersigned, that the bill in that case was regnrded by sume of the older members of the House as unsustained by principie, and opposed to the entire practice of the Government, since we have been a nalion. Bul it passed while such meinbeis vvere absent froin the House, or at least without their attenlion being called to it, and one of thosc days in which no discussion is permitted. As it passed without discussion or examination, it can wiih no propriety be said to forma precedent for othcr cases; particularly, vvhen the House of Representative3 has 1 frequenlly passad upon this question upon full examination, and have as uniformly i fused to pay for the loss of persons held as i sluves. The case of Francis Larche is one familiar lo most of those who have served long in Congress. The petitioner in that case owned a slave, horse, and cart, all of vvhich vvere in his service nenrNew Orleans, in 1814. The day of the Laitle near that city the slave, horse, and cart, vvere impressed into the public service, by order of the commanding officer. During the battle, the negro and horse vvere killed, and the cart destroyed by the cannon shot of the enetny. - The owner subsequently applied to Congress for compensation. The case was referred lo the Committee of Claims, who reported in favor of paying for the horse and cart, but against paying for the slave. (See House Reporis, lst session 21st Congress, vol. 3, No. 401.) This is, perhaps, the strongest lossible case. The owner had not hired the slave to Government, but the slave had been mpressed against the will of the owner. If any case could be attended with circumstances which demanded pay frorn the Governnent, for the loss of a slave, this was surely such a case ; yet the committee, composed of men from the Southern States as vvell as "rom the Nortliern States, appear to have come to the conclusión, that the allowance of his claim vvould be an verturning of the established usages of the Government. . They say, in their report, that they had caused examination to be made at the Treasury Detriment, to see if slaves who had been killed n public service during the revolutionary war had been paid for. And they learned that no such instance could be found. They also cile a number of cases vvhere claims vvere made for slaves killed, and those who died in the public service, d uring the war of 1812, all of which vvere rejected. On the 9th of April, 1S1G, Congress passed an act entitled " An act to authorize the payment for property lost, or captured, or destroyed by the enemy vvhile in the military service of the United States." A molion was made to amend ihe bilí, so as to include slaves lost or killed in the public service ; but the amendment -vas rejected. Anolher attempt was made to amend a similar bilí on the 24th of January, 1825, but the amendmem was again rejecied. These express decisions of the House, and the number of reports against claims for payment for slaves lost in ihe public service, would seem 10 have permanently es'.ablished the principies wliich should govern us in the present case. But several cases of this clsseription have, vviihin the last five or six yeais, been reported upon favorably, and efforls made to change the established usage of the Government in cases of ibis descripiien. At the 2d session of the 27th Cono-ress, the Committee on Territories reported a bilí lor the relief of the people of West Florida, by vvhich provisions vvere made for the payment of slaves taken from their ovvners by the army under General Jackson, in IS 14. This bill was opposed on the ground that slaves were -persons, and nol property ; and when the final vote wástf.ken by yeas and nays, ihe claim was rejected. But enumeralion of particular cases can add no strength to the pnsition assumed by the undersigned. From tbe. first session of the first Congress down (o the present day, no case can be found in which the legislative branch of Government bas, upon examination or discussion of this subject, admitted slaves to be property, Mauy claims of this character have been rejected. The action of the House has at all times been opposed to allowing claims of this description; having, for more than half a century, regarded slaves as persons, and not as property. The undersigned can now see no good reason for reversing the principies on vvhich Congress bas so long acled, and overturn the plainly expressed nteniion of those who framed our Federal compact. But the undersigned are deeply impressed with the important principies involved in lliis case, whicli yet reinain to be examined. The time seeins rapidly approaching wlien the relation which the Eederal Goveniment holds to the institulion of slavery, imder tlie Constitution, must be sxamined and dctermined. The undersigned are conscious that they cannot do jintiee to their own views of this case without defining, with somedegree of precisión, the constiritutional powers of the Federal Government ia respect to slavery. They find that, prior to the adoptiou of the Federal Constiution, eaoh of the severa! States entering into the compact had full, perfect, and absolute control over the institutioo of slavery within its otfn boundary, and could continue or abolish it at the pleasuru of its people. - By adopting the Constitution, none of those powers we re delegated to the Federal Government, but eacli of the several States reInined to itself the saine powers in relation to slavery which it had previously possessed. - A portion of the States, in pitrsuance of their molt obvious constitutional rights, have abolisbed the institulion. Other States, by virtue of the same right, still continue to sustain it. Nor bas Congress the constiiutional power to interfero with the exercise of those rights. - The several States, having retained to themselves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government, each may now aaslaia slavery or it may entirely separate itself IVotn all partiripation in the support of that institution. - The rights of the several States on this subject are equal, and perfectly reciprocal. The Federal Government, in the opinión of the undersigned. possesses no power to involve the slave States in the abolilion of their " peculiar inslitution." Nor has it the right to involve the free States in its support. ]t is strictly a State institution, over which Congress has no control, exoept to legislate for tho reeapture of fugitivo slave, as provided for in the last clause, 2d section of the 4th article of the Constitntion. Wiih this one exception, the undersigned entertain the opinion that Congress possessM nojurisdiction over tbat subject, and is total'.y destilute of all power to legislate, either to uphold or destroy t. The Federa! Government bebngs equally to all the States; and when it puts forth its powers, it must act for all the people of all the States. It follovvs, as a ' corollary, that it cannot act where slavery ia concerned. If it acts against slavery, it must encroach upon the rights of the slave States ; if it act for tho support of tliat institution, it wül equally encroach upon the rights of the free States ; for tliey hold tlieir right to be free from what they regard the guilt of slavery to be as supreme as tliat of the people of the Soutl) to be free from its abolilion. The framers ofthe Constitution, as we learn from the discussions at the time of its adop-1 tion, intended to leave the nsiitution of slavery entirely wiih the States. It is in vain tliat we look to that instrument for any powers conferred on Congress over slavery. - These opinions are believed tobe fully borne out by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. (See Groves ra. Slaughter, 15 Peters's Rep., p. 449; also, Case of Prigg w. the Commonwealih of Pennsylvanía, 1G Peters's Reports.) This doctrine, so prominent in the discus-" sions at the time of adopting the Constitution and vvhich it is beüeved bas not only been1 confirmed by judicial decisions of the courtá of the United States, but by those of the different States, has been frequenlly recognised by the House of Representatives. By au almost unanimous vote, in December, 1838, il was resolved that this Government is a Govtrnnmtt ofhmUed poivers ; that, by the Con' stitution of the United States, it luis no power whaleter over the institvtion of slavery in the sevcral States of this Union." It would be useless lo quote oiher resolutions or acis of this house to prove a proposition so welf known and understood by all intelligent men. So far has this doctrine been carried, that for many years it was regarded as a useless occupation of time, even to receivc petitions asking us to act in any way touching the institution of slavery, even in the District of Columbia, where it exista by act of Congress ; and such petitions, by a standing rule of the House, vvere laid on the table, without being read or referred. It seemed to have been the unhnimoii3 opinión of slatesmen, that Congress possessed no powers whatever in relation to slavery. A distinguished Senator, in speaking before t'iat body on this subject, in 1S39, said : ' Atxording to the coinprises of the Constitution, no power whatever was granted to the Federal Government in respect to domeslic slavery, but mat which relates to the taxationr representaron, and the power to restore fugitive slaves ; all otber power," said he, " in regard lo the institution of slavery, was retained exclusively by the States." This wa spoken in presence of that learned body, and no meniber, it is believed, either denied or doubted the doctrine advanced. The undersigned entertain the same sentiments. They feel that to legislale for the payment of slaves by this Government, or ta appropriate the funds of the nation, drawn, in part. from the freemen of the North, for such a purpose, would be to involve the people of the free States in the support of ati institution which they have discarded, which they regard as wrong, to which they are morally and religiously opposed, and from the evils and burdens of vvhich they are most obviousljr exempted by the constilutional compact. The undersigned are not unconscious that the last clause ofsection second,arlicle fourthr of the Constilution has been reterred lo, to show thal the Constitution has involved the free States in the support of slavery. This, hower, if true, must be limited to the terms lo which that clauss extends. It has no other reference to slavery than regnrds fugiijva slaves, and cannot properly be construed ns extending further. But we find, by the history of its adoption, that the framers wera careful not to involve the people of the free States in, and they will pass no law or regulations, nor do any acts. to relieve such fugitive from the service of his master. When that clause oftlie Constitution was before the Convention, a mpinber from South Carolina' moved to amend it so as to arrest and imprison fugitiva slaves, i the same manner as tliey vera bound to arrest and imprison fugitives from justice. But Mr. Wilson, oí Pennsylvania, objected tliat sucli provisión vvould involve the people ofthe free Otates in the expense of arresting and imprisoning slaves, and ihe amendment vvas rejected. This is conclusive to sliow that no acts wer to be done by the people of the free States in favor of fugitive slaves. Indeed, this very slipulation ís to abstain from action. So clearly is that intention expressed on the face of the Constitution, that the Supremo Court of the United States, in the case of Prigg r. Commenwealth of Pennsylvania, deciared the States incompetent to Iegislnle on the subject, and that the last raember of the section, which says " they sha!l be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due," imposes upon the people of the free States no other obltgation than peaceably and qmetly to pertnit the holder of the slave to enter sunh State and pursue and take his slavo without rnolestation or hindrance. To theen.'tent, then, of abstaininjj frora all participatioi!) in aidinji the slave to escape from servio, the people of the free States are bound to upholu ihat institution, and no farther. The master cannot demand of them aid or assistance in retaking his slave. So far from this, sotne of theStato légiglatnree have, liv atstute law, rendered it pcual for my citizen of snch State (not heing au offleer of the United States) to ronder any assistarico to the m?w% Ier in such case. Of the porfect constitutionril power of the States to pass such laws, the undersignoil entertain no doubts. And they are led to the conclusión thiit this provisión of the coustitution gives no power, eitlior express or ly implieation, to Congres, tolegislatoeither ftir the benefit or the ahnlitiou of slavery, except ior tlie arrest of such fuitives; and on tlvit point, the po wers of Congrcss extend no fkltlier than to attach penallie- to any act of interferenco on the part of those who delend, protect, tr secrete the fugitive from arrest. - . The undorsiijned. after the most careful cxamination ot thikeaaa, and of the important principies involved in i: considvration, have heen led to the conclusión - í'trífy. That iidin'iltitip lbo mnn Lewis to Imve bcn the propc-Tlv ui" tin petitimsr, in t'io ordiuary nccrplation oflli.it inrni, tllP circumstalHos ot" this cuso come williin no OUlhUlllti rulo of coiiipeiis itïou knowu in tho practicr ofthis Oovcrnmcnt. Sctnndly. Th;it KaVÍV wils n pritoner of war, nnd could not properly liuve Ijeeii surremlorfut, by the müitjrv olliccr in coiiv mnn'l. to any porann ctioinin hiin n i lt.ve. T'iirdly. Tlint slavps, mulor tho proviiions of the FeuVrn! Conititntiou, urn not ragardad as property, anL ought not to bo piiid Co' by th GovrrDincilt KI Men. Fourthly. That for Cungrcss to allow coniprneation for tho umi l.owis, wottlil ba to reverso aolira syslem of IrtrUInlion na the aubject, nlncli ctmtrollod this body sinco tho ndoption of tha ('iMistilutiou. uuil uiiiild hflapfllfc n n inslability of purpo wliuli nuitX iiRCesstirily impair the coaifidonce now i-epod in gi by onr RonütituentA. FiflMy. Thai by Iba Cnnstilnlion of tho Vnitcil Stolen, th Fadaral UOTammant re nol anthorizert to Icgidlnto npon the subject of slavnry, or in any marnier to involvo the free Sutes in ttic pnymaot for slavos. Tlio undorsinQi), thereforo, rrcommend to tho eouiidcrnlio of lbo House the following resoltition : Retolvtd, That the potitiouer is not entitlpd to relief. JO1IV UICKKY, JAMF.8 WIl.SON, DAVID FI9HKR. HÜDhEY MARVtK.

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Michigan Liberty Press
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