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of sovereign power. That rested originally with the states ; and therc, I contend, it remains to-day. If it does not rest with the states where is it? I have shown that this government, being possessed only of limited powers, for specificd purposes, can not be sovereign. That high power, I repeat, remains where it originally rested—in the states of this Union; and whicnever it is called into action it must flow from its pristinc sourco.
I may, Mr. Speaker, in the attempt to make myself understood, bo charged with unnecessary rcpctition of the same idea; but our political system is very complex and much misapprehended. In its complicity, however, I recognize the great framc-work of the liberal age in which it was constructed; for that complicity was necessary to sccuro liberty by the protection of every interest involved.
I come now to apply this principle of sovereignty to the Territories. At the time of the formation of the federal Constitution there were not ini cxistenco nny ruch municipal communitica ns thoso wo now term Territories. Consequently tho Inngungo of tlint instrument, which confers upon Congress the nuthority “to disposo of nnd make nil ncoil. ful rules and regulations for the territory and other property of tho United States," was not intended to convey to Congress the right of legislation over the Territories as subsequently constituted. This is clear. The context itself shows that the word "" territory' was palpably used in the sense of property, for the disposal of which Congress, the common agent of the states, was to make the “needful rules and regulations," such as to survey the lands and to provide for their sale. This is further shown by the stronger and more explicit language used in conferring the power of legislation over such cession as might be madlo by the states for the seat of governincnt. Whence, then, is dcrived the power of Congress to legislate for a Territory as we now understand the term ? Before I proceed to answer this question of tho power of municipnl legislation, I should state, what necessarily follows froin the vicws which I have already presented, that the people of a Territory possess no sovereign power. They occupy the common territory of all the states, over which the states jointly not only possess the eminent domain, but also the ultimate sovereignty. The inhabitants of a Territory possess no more sovereignty over it than if they had established their residences in the Russian empire. All the political powers that the people of a Territory possess or acquire must come from the states, cither by the common grant of all the states, or by cession from their agent, tlic federal government, under the Constitution. Now, sir, having fixed their true relations to the states, I shall proceed to answer the inquiry, whence does Congress derive the right of legislation over the Territorics? It is, in my opinion, implied in the power delegated by the states to Congress in the Constitution to admit new states into the Union upon cqual footing with the original states. This right necessarily implies the right of Congress to prepare the people (or rather the inhabitants, for the term “people” technienlly significa n community politically orgnnizcil
, nnd can not, in thint sense', 1w npplied to the inlinbitants or n Torritory) for ndmission into tho Union ng n state. The innjor includes the minor-that is to say, under the power to "ndinit,” Congress possesses the right of paving tho way for that act-of making the preliminary arrangements for
the important change of the political condition of a Territory. It is under that power, then, and not under the right to make "rules and regulations” for the disposal of the common territory that Congress can legislato for tho Territorics, or establish municipal governments therein. But, sir, this authority is limited to legislation, and docs not extend to the exercise of any power properly appertaining to sovereignty, much less to the delegation of such attributes to the territorial government. The power of legislation, and that of making organic laws, are distinct things—the ono may be exercised by the legislative branch of the government, the other is the exclusive attribute of the sovereign power. In the whole process, this high authority is brought into action in only ono instancc-on tho admission of a new stato. In tho act of admission into tho Union as a stato, tho pcoplo of a Tcrritory aro at onco collectively invested with soyercignty. l'rom that instant they stand as the peer of cvcry other state. The sovcrcign power passes to them, not from the federal government (for that government can not hold it), but by the cession of the other states, in conformity with their constitutional compact, by which, by empowering Congress as their common agent to admit new states upon an equal. ity with themselves, they have bound themselves to ccdc thcir joint sovereignty, until that moment retained, to their new sister.
From the principles I have laid down, Mr. Speaker, the inference clearly follows that Congress, possessing merely the power of municipal legislation to prepare the Territories for admission into the Union, has no power to cxclude or abolish slavery in the Territorics. Much less have the inhabitants of a Territory, possessing no inherent sovereignty, and having no political powers cxcept those derived from Congress, this right.
A glance at the condition of the inhabitants of any portion of our common territory, before the establishment of any territorial government, may still farther tend to illustrate my views. What is the condition of the residents now upon tho Gadsden purchasc--the inhabitants of the rich and fruitful hills and dales of Arizonia ? Aro they in a state of nature, liko the wild savage, without a political status, without laws to restrain them, or without rights to bo protoctod ? I think not; for I differ froin my friend from South Carolina (Mr. Orr) in tho opinion which he tho other dny advanced as to tho state of a Territory. There is, sir, in my opinion, a common law, which exists in every portion of our common country, as well in the states as in tho common territory, from the instant of its acquisition ; and that law is the Constitution of the United States.
Mr. Orr. In speaking of the common law, I had reference to the common law of England. I stated expressly that, in my belief, tho Constitution extended over the Territories.
Mr. Quitman. I then understood the gentleman to take the ground that no law for the protection of property existed in any of the Territories until made by the territorial Legislature. I think that I now comprehend his idea better. I maintain, in the first place, that the inhabitants of such portions of our territory have all the rights, privileges, and immunities provided or reserved in the Constitution. Furthermore, every citizen of any of the states, from whatever section of the country he goes, taking up his residenco on the common terri.
tory of the states, carries with him all the essential rights which he possessed in his own state. The states being joint proprietors and co-sovereigns, the citizen of each stato stands, as it were, upon the soil of his own state, as much so as if he stood upon the deck of an American vessel on the high seas. The general principles of law that are common to all the states, founded on usage and general conformity, prevail in and constitute the common law of thc Territory. There may bo no judicial organization to enforce that law, but it has its vitality, and exists; and, upon thc cstablishment of judicial tribunals, would be recognized and acted upon without positive legislation on the subject of thcsc rights. Prominent among thcsc rights is that of property recognized by any of the states. When that right, as in the case of slaves, is recognized by the organic law of nearly one half of the states in the Union, and at least in one instance acknowlcdged by the Constitution of the United States, it not only exists and is available in the common tcrritory of the statcs bcforo the establishment of civil government there, but is far beyond tho rcach of both the federnl and terriwrinl governments when found on tho common possessions of tho stntcs. There is but ono power that can destroy my right to my slnvo, and that is tlic slate in which I hold him, or to which I voluntarily carry him. If tho federal government docs not possess the right, it is absurd to say that ono of its departments has it. Whilo I concede to that high tribunal, the Supremo Court of tho United States, the right to determinc finally all cascs of law and equity which come within its jurisdiction, I deny its authority to scttlc questions which involve the political rights of the states. The Constitution is tho work of tho stnter, nnd they must construo it for themselves upon all questions nfi'ccting their rights. Thcso would ccase to be rights, if subject to tho antagonistic power against which they were limited. It is absurd to suppose that the states, in the formation of the Constitution, jealous of their great essential political rights, would have left them at the mercy of that very power against the encroachment of which they were erecting a barrier. It is yet more absurd to suppose that they would have left them, by construction, to one department of the government, and that department, both from its mode of appointment and its tenure of office, the least responsible to the people.
I approve, Mr. Speaker, the principles of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. I claim, under it, and under tho Constitution, the right to carry my slave into cither of thosc Territorics. I know that this right, if a caso can be made on it, may be the subject of the examination and decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, and that that decision, in any given case, would be final. I would abide by it, as a settlement of the case decided; but I am not willing to let it go to the world that I would respect the precedent, or that I would surrender the principle that the assertion of such essential rights belongs exclusively to the states aggrieved' by their violation. The Supremo Court, in my opinion, posiekace no jurisdiction to decido finally upon the political rights of the states. I am still old-fashionod cnough to stand squarcly upon the doctrincs of tho Virginia and Kentucky rcsolutions of 1798-'99.
At last, Mr. Speaker, this whole subjcct resolves itself into several great questions connected with tho thcory of our political system.
Is this essentially a national government, or is it a union of sovereign states ?
Does tho sovercignty or supremo power reside in the central government, or the mass of the people of our country as a nation, one and indivisible ? or does it yet repose in the sovereign states ?
The solution of these great questions has, at various periods of our political history, occupied the attention of the best statesmen of the country. The radical principles involved in them divided the gigantic intellects of Calhoun and Webster. Almost all the differences of opinion that exist as to the action of the federal government on tho practical issues which spring up from day to day, grow out of the various solutions of these questions. Therefore they are, indeed, worthy of repeated discussion.
I had, Mr. Speaker, intended to notice some of the remarks made by the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Marshall) on the subject of “squatter sovereignty,” but I find that my hour has expired. Whatever more I may have wished to say in this connection, I must, perforce, postpone the accomplishment of my wishes until some farther occasion.
II. SPEECII OF JOHN A. QUITMAN, OF MISSISSIPPI, ON THE SUBJECT
OF THIE NEUTRALITY LAWS: DELIVERED IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE ON THE STATE OF TIIE UNION, APRIL 29TH, 1856.
MR. CHAIRMAN,—Since the opening of this session of Congress, the public mind has been almost exclusively absorbed by the slavery qnestion—that great issue which distracts the entire country, and seems to menaco with danger the integrity of the Union. Ilad it not been for the excitement produced by that paramount question, a high sense of duty would have impelled me, during cvcn the first week of this session, to present to the consideration of tho Ilouse, and of the country, a matter of decp and permanent interest to both. As I shall be necessarily absent for several weeks, I will avail myself of this opportunity, so kindly furnished by my friend from Florida (Mr. Maxwell], to present my views on the subject of certain laws which now encumber our statute-book; thoso laws which seck to enforce our supposed ncutral obligations to other nations; thosc laws which, though acquicsced in for some years, are, in my opinion, injurious to the best interests of our country, and fatal to its hopes of future development. The pcculiar condition of many ncigliboring states and colonics, and the influence which their condition must exercise upon our own prosperity, render it highly important at the present time that we should review this branch of our national policy. "A radical change is required. For the purpose of effecting this
, I yesterday gave notice that I would introduce a bill to repeal the objectionable provisions of the existing neutrality law. This bill proposes to repeal the first, second, third, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth, and cleventh sections of “An act in addi
tion to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, and to repeal the acts therein mentioned," approved April 20th, 1818. I frankly admit on the threshold that my bill contemplates an entire alteration of policy; it advocates a complete abandonment of that extraordinary system of legislative restriction by which the free action and enterprising spirit of our people are crippled, and to which it is a matter of surpriso that they have so long submitted. But, Mr. Chnirman, wo livo in an nge of progress. Changes aro constantly going on around us; and to them we must adapt our course. It is not to the past alone that we must look to learn our present duties or our future obligations. The conduct of other nations, the aspect of adjacent states, the circumstances of cach tccming hour-all thcso must be taken into consideration. That which might, twenty years since, have becn morally and politically right, may now be not only morally wrong, but politically suicidal." When one set of legislators may, by one act, bind down immutably thc cnergics of unborn millions, libcrty ccnscs to cxist.
Our government, in its thcory, is purely reprcsentativo. It should, in reality, be the reflex of public sentiment; but it too often lags behind the march of opinion, and cndcavors to control and direct that power, from which it should properly take its color, as it does always take its being. But when the full tide of popular principle is aroused, the government must ultimately be carried with it.
While I believe that public opinion demands the change of policy which I propose by this bill, I still approach the argument with diffidence, doubting whether the short space of time allowed me will sufficc to render tho conclusions as clearly forcible to the minds of others us they aro to my own. But, Mr. Chairman, I act with a firm reliance upon the strong American intellect, and with a conviction that my proposition is founded on reason, justice, and sound policy.
Thc law of nations," so called, does not profess to establish fixed and invariable rules, applicable to all cases. Its object is to define the moral relations that mutually exist between independent states, and the character of those relations is necessarily modified by the course of circumstances. To understand tho obligations that we owe both to ourselves and to other nations, we must first survey the position of the political communities around us. A distant and cursory glance is all that I can now bestow upon this instructive picture.
Of Cannda, and the vast British possessions that skirt our northern frontier, I will not spenk. Under the mild rulo to which thicy nro now subjected by the mother government, the people of those colonies wear the appearance of content; and it may be that they are preparing, quietly and without violence, to take their place at the proper time in the family of separatc nations.
Turning to Mexico, our neighbor on the south and west, we shall find her in a state of disintegration. Since 1820, when her mixed population banished the Spanish tyrants, she has been rapidly sinking in cvery mornl and physical element; and, during the last eight ycars, slic has preserved a stnto of sickly cxistence by selling portions of her territory to the United States. This method alono has sufficed to prop the tottering foundations of her nationality; and this is, indeed, a sign that sho is rapidly hastening to her final dissolution. The wholo