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Decision Of The Supreme Court: For The Signal Of Liberty

Decision Of The Supreme Court: For The Signal Of Liberty image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
Letter to the Editor
OCR Text

Pontiac, April 7h, 1842. Me?srs. Editors : - It would scem, by the decisión of ihe Supremo Cuurt of liie Uniled Sta'es", in llie Pennsylvania :ind Maryland case, as reportad in the Ernancpatorof Mnrch llih, 1812, that the fo! flowing points are stabhshed. l3t. Thut tbs slavo holder i?, by virtue of a right created by the Federal Constitution, legaily cntiilcd to the possession and services of bis flavo. Tbat "it (the Constitutinn) ëstubiishes the right of the owner without qualifiealion or rerestrictiori, all over the Union; the sanie right which he liad in Ihe State where the slave is held, and Luljoct to 11 tho incidents of that right. One of these incilents, universally enjnycd in the slave holding States, is the riyhl of recánfíori.'' On wbat principie is (he ribtui' rccaption based? D es tho sluve bulder claim ihe po9session and services of a slavc on the ground of a contract niutually entered into by ihe parties, binding ihe one io the otber i'or anj term of years? Na. There isbutone party in the case, who holds the olher by virtue of the locnl law of a State, in legislature of which he was not represented, and to whose acts he nover assentcd. The local law makes the slave a "chattel pesi.-nal." The slave holder's claim, then, is bascd upon ihe chattel principie. The man becotnes a mere animal for the ptirposesof labor, correction, and merchandizc: and jet the right to claim him, thongh in the non slavehohling Saté, for all these purposes, they being local and legal incidente oí'slavery, is, according to the reported decisión, ''created by the Federal Constitiüion," and is tobe enforced ilall over the Union.'1 Verily! Huvc we of ihe North "nothing to do with slavery ?" Is ihcre no slave ry in the Constitut ;:? 2nd. That Congress has "exclusive legislation in ihe matter of returniug fugitives - not from justice - NO, but i'rom tinrequited 'labor'- alias inj.istice- alias durance vile' - alias the land of cow skins and of blom!, for the period of their whole livesj and this necessity lo legislate for recapiurmg the noble spirits who had, without a crime, freed themselve3 from iheir galling chains, and to re mand ihem back lo the great soulhern prison house - ihe Inquisition and Golgotha of American liberty - is thrast upon the niUional legislature by that constilulion y-h_ieh was proiessedlv rea red upon the lroad [latform of our deciuratiim óf Independcnce - :hat constiiutiin which now binds together Iwenty six sovereignties for their "mutual benefii" - that Cónstituiiou which was to secure an asylun, a sale and happy retreat from the unholy èxactiöna oi dtspotism, "(or the oppressed of ail nationsl!1' My cheek suöuses with the blush ofshame while I write, uad my heart burns within me, fired with indignation at this solemn, ibis eupcr inhuman mockery! 3J. If the slaveholder'a tule to the possession and services of bis. slave, all over the Union, is created by the Federal Constilution; and if that title is based en the chattel principie, then tho Constitution recognizes slaves as property, the decisión of the same court in the late Mississppi case to the contrary notvviihstanding. I must confesa í do not quite comprehend iho harmony of these decisions. 4th. If the Federal Constitution guarantees to the citizena of the States the right to be secure in the possession and use of their "effects;" if the term effects, in ita legal significaron, includes chaitle3 persona!; if Coogress only can legislate undcr the Federal Constitution; and if that Constitution recognizes the chattelprincipie in tlaves; iljen it become3 the! duty oJ'Congress to leirihlale for the proteo tion of the slavehoider in the unrestrioled enjoyrnent of this species of {jropriety; wherever he be, within ;he limits of the! Uiiioti, ifunproiceted by ihe local law. 5th. If u slave holder sojo'urn three, six, nine. or ar.y other number of monthsj in u free state, the law nf Congress would; be lus thield of proiectioii so far ivs his sti properiy is con::erned and henee j Congress c:n, oa constiiutional grounds? jsuiject the free stiltes to the degradation' jOt toleraiing siavery wilh ils mcidents,; wiihiti thcir liimis, although the local Cunjsiituiions declares that siavery shall not exidt wiihiu-their several localuiey. ö;h. l'f it 3 the duty of Congress to protect the right of preperty in sla ves 'all over the Union,' that right having been iicquired under the lucal law, then it must be protected ïh the District of Culumfcia, uo.eie congress hus, by the coustilutionj j "exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever.1" Ilence Congress eannot exerciae sucii "exclusive legislalion," und cmnot! aholish siavery there so far as sojourners! and present residents are concerned. 7ih. lf a Federal Judgo order the delivery over öf a fugiiive slave, if he be paiJ llr so doing f'ruiïi the nalional treasury ; if to unnccostarily detain stolen prop! érty íroín ilárighilul owner (in this caae the man being he property, und himself ihe real ownci) be a perpelualion of ihe crime of iheit, then the judoe, nay the whole federal Governtneni, from the j ident down to the Marshall, may be com-j pelled to become implicalcd in thav crime;! and the natonal ireaïutè prostituted toj perpetúalo the lleaven-daring crime of' man stealing. Can it be lut siavery, which was once generally supposeu Ui be so confiued wilh-! tn the soulhern porlion of the l nion,tiiat! that the Nonh hud nothing to do wilh ily& was notaffleied byit,is po entwined arotüi the constitution it self, thal il become.s the duty of the general governinent to los-' ter and protect it wherever the cupidity j or caprice uf the man sleulers hall chancó 1 lo curry it wiihin the Union? Is it so terwoven with the very ribeis of the Unii.n! 3 to derange its Vibrittimis, and cause its' morbid throbbings to impel the vitkled! principie of vilaliiy ihrough the whoJei struclure, carrving cliiüs and4death to the very extremiMis? Is ihis indeed a slaveholdmg nation? Is the general govem-j ment iade sulservient to the vile purposes of slaery by the constilution ilsell? What! ihe Federal Constilution, the supremc law of the United Stntes of America, nsserting the rigtit to hold property in man! And then the governinent, ofcouise clolhod with plenary power to enforce the principie, and this power coeval and con;mensurate with tfio consUjutipn.! ilorrible! j f ibis be ihe character of; (he constitution. procluim il from the house j tops, and in les.s líiaü thrce years the lib-j erty loving frcerricn of the riorth will rise,! cnmas&e, am! demanda ihorough remodelling of that instrument. But is thcre nol sume mistake, some niaappreheaion in this matter? Tí. a object of this communicution is to elicit light upon this immensely important subject. - It is'hoped thiit abler pens will lend their aid. and iruide us to rmiit conclusioas.