Press enter after choosing selection

Trial By Jury: For The Signal Of Liberty

Trial By Jury: For The Signal Of Liberty image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The period ia at hand, when this most important queslion of the extensión oí the right of trial by Jury to rur coiored populalion, who are arraigned as fugitives from Iavery, is to be decided. The question is a highly important one as respects the charucter of the S:ate. It will decide the comparative eslicnate in whieh we hold liberty and property. That decisión will ehow wheie we mean to stand in the great struggle which has already commenced between might and right, between tyranny and freedom, between high handed oppresflion and open robbery on the one hand, and the most sacred of human rights and ihedearest of human interests on the olher. In continuing to deny our coiored popíilation a jury trial, we are servilëly copying the lawsof the slaye Stales. We are ianctioning, to sotne extent,the most odioup features of their slave legislation. So far as our example and influence in legislation ex te rui, we signify our approval of the Acts of those States, making a wicked and wholly unconstitutional distinction in tbe modes of trial, and distributing justice according the color of the skin. la so doing we assirniiate our legislation as nearly as possible, to that of the slave Siates. We get our precedents from those with whom color is presumptive evidence of condition, and on the vital point of liberty, receive as our guides, the veriest of tyrants, the most grinding of despots. This ought not so to be. We ought not to go to the región of morai dealh for models on which to form our etatutes. Laws should promote the moral as well as the physical well-being of the community. May we not reasonably dread the contagión of the Southern Larzaretto? So torturonsly construcled - Bo criminally perverted - bo loathsomely diseased is Southern legislation, that for one portion of the community crimes are constructed out of accidents, and punishments aggravated upon the offender in the proportion of his ignorance, helplessness, ar.d mental imbecility. The slave is forbidden to read and yet is made amenable to an infinitude of legislativo enaetments, which ho could know only through a diligent one reading of such enaetments. - The cripple is commanded to run - the blind to eee, and failing to do so, they aropun8hed with more severity tnan those whose eyes and limbs are ?',JUn(jt Let ug beware of any approach. to suc'h re'fine_ ment of legislntive de'vity. Ín no oiher way an we ab8Olve ourselvesfroragiiiUy pnrticipatiui-in tho sin ofslavery. O).c legislalure must no Ionger counteniace this abomination- it must not allow toreign claims to this species ol propert i a preferente over every other claü. A residentofnnother State comea 'ipÏQ and claims a horse - his claim, if resisted, must be proved before a jury. - The sume or nnother comes to us and claims a man. It is enough to convince or intimídate, to hoodwink or bribo a single justicè, and lúa decisión is without appeal - his sentenco is irreversible. Alas! íbr humanity! Ala?, for justice! Nations are rewarded or punished in this world, as individuáis are in thenext. What fate can a community expect which sanetions laws of such horrible atrocity? 'Let no freeman be imprisoned or outlawed, or in any manner injured nor proceeded ogainst by us, oiher than by the legal judgmeiU of bis peers or by the law of the land.' Such are the memorable words of the Magna Charta, and for six hundred years this has Leen held as the fundamental law of Britain, embracingthe writ of Habaos Corpus und trial by jury. Evcry state in the Union has incorporated it into its constitutionjis the most effectual safeguard against injustice and oppression that has ever been contrived by man. It has a conspicuous placo in our own ordinance of 1787, together with that article which declares there shall never be slavery or involuntary servitude on our soil. - Our State Cimstituiion recognizesand establishes it.Five of our 6isier States and among them Alassachusetts and New',York, nave declared legislatively &judicially ihat the free colored man shail enjoy this procious security for his freedom. In those States a verdict of tvvelve men is reqnired to reduce a man lo bondage. Shall we say that one man ia sufficient to pronounce a man a slave - a brute - mere propertyf - Let us not be so unjust to ourselves - so traitorous to our Constilulion and the Ordinance, under which we "carne into civil existence, and what 9 more, lo the great principies of justice and equal rights. - Nation?,(says some one) are rewarded and punished iu this world us individuals are in the next. Let us beware of exposing ourselves in either capacity tothe