« ZurückWeiter »
bored under the authority of that act; that the proceed- the Queen of Scots, the judges were instructed to conIngs thereon in the Supreme Court were coram non demn her, and by their sentence she ca.ne to the block. judice in relation to this court; and that obedience to its This horrid deed was covered by the cloak of judicial mandate be declined by this court.
I proceedings. When Charles I., determined to change In times of violent party excitement, agitating the the religion of Scotland, he made use of the Court of whole nation, to expect that judges will be entirely ex- | High Commission to effect the object. By the same judi empt from its influence, argues a profound ignorance of cial power, the advocates for the doctrines of the Re mankind. Although clothed with the erinine, they are formation have so often been divested of their religious still men, and carry into the judgment seat the passions privileges, and doomed to seal with their blood that reand motives common to their kind. Their decisions on ligion which bore them triumphantly through the vale of party questions reflect their individual opinions, which death. frequently betray them unconsciously into error. To The short, though splendid history of this Government balance the judgment of a whole people by that of two or furnishes nothing that can induce us to look with a very three men, no matter what may be their official elevation, favorable eye to the Federal Judiciary as a safe deposi. is to exalt the creature of the Constitution above its tory of our liberties. When a law was enacted in viola creator, and to assail the foundation of our political / tion of a vital principle of the Constitution, that which fabric; which is, that the decision of the people is infal- | was designed to secure the freedom of speech and of the lible, from which there is no appeal but to Heaven.-See press, the victims of its operation looked in vain to the Benton's Abridgment, vol. 6, pages 660, 661.
judges to arrest the progress of usurpation. If this Mahlon Dickerson, of New Jersey, said :
power could ever be exercised to any good purpose, it
would be, on such occcasions, to declare the law unconBut I must beg leave to differ from the honorable gen stitutional which aims a deadly blow at the vital princitleman (Mr. Walker, of Georgia) when he informs us that ples of freedom; but, so far as the transactions of that our independent Judiciary is the bulwark of the liberties day are detailed in our public records, it appears that of the people. By which he must mean, defenders of the the Judiciary was a willing instrument of Federal usurpeople against the oppressions of the Government. From pation. That law was executed in all the rigor of the what I witnessed in the years 1798, 1799, and 1800, I never spirit which dictated it. The turbulence of faction found shall, I never can, consider our Judiciary as the bulwark no moderation there, and the people found relief only of the liberties of the people. The people must look out in their own power. The exercise of their elective franfor other bulwarks for their liberties.--See ib., page 701. cbise removed the evil, and this is their only safe depen
dence, RICHARD M. JOHNSON, OF KENTUCKY.
GEN. JACKSON. Mr. Johnson, who was elected Vice-President The following is an extract from Gen. Jackof the United States by the Democratic party, I son's message vetoing the bill for rechartering represented Kentucky in the United States the Bank of the United States. It may be Senate in 1822. I find in Benton's Abridg. found on page 438 of the Senate Journal for ment of the Debates of Congress, vol. 7, page the first session of the Twenty-second Congress, 145, an elaborate speech of Mr. Johnson upon a land is in these words: resolution offered by him, proposing an amend
If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the ment of the Constitution. His proposition was whole ground of this act, it ought not to control the coto amend the Constitution by referring all cases ordinate authorities of this Government. The Congress, in which a State may be a party to the final | the Executive, and the Court, must each for itself be
guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each adjudication of the Senate. In the course of
public officer, who takes an oath to support the Constihis remarks, he says:
tution, swears that he will support it as he understands
it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much At this time there is, unfortunately, a want of confi
the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, dence in the Federal Judiciary, in cases that involve
and of the President, to decide upon the constitutionalpolitical power; and this distrust my be carried to other itu
her ity of any bill or resolution which may be presented to cases, such as the lawyers call meum et tuum.
them for passage or approval, as it is of the supreme Courts also, like cities and villages, or like legislative
judges, when it may be brought before them for judicial bodies, will sometimes have their leaders; and it may
| decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authorhappen, that a single individual will be the prime cause
ity over Congress than the opinion of Congress over the of a decision to overturn the deliberate act of a whole
judges; and, on that point, the President is independState, or of the United States; yet, we are admonished
ent of both. The authority of the Supreme Court must to receive their opinions as the ancients did the re
not, therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or sponses of the Delphic oracle, or the Jews, with more
the Executive when acting in their legislative capacities, propriety, the communications from Heaven, delivered
but to have only such influence as the force of their by Urim and Thummim, to the High Priest of God's
reasoning may deserve. chosen people, from the sanctum sanctorum. Other causes of difference might be multipliad to a tedious extent; but enough has been said to show that judges, who,
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION. like other men, are subject to the frailties, the passions, the partialities, and antipathies, incident to human na
MR. WEBSTER'S VIEWS. ture, should not be exempted from responsibility on account of their superior integrity, learning, and capacity;
ion was or that their decisions should be subject to revision by
y land ably stated by the late Daniel Webster, in a some competent tribunal, responsible to the people. It is believed that this is the opinion of that great and good speech delivered before the U. S. Senate, on the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, and 27th of January, 1830, in the famous debate who now enjoys, in the shades of Monticello, the bless- l between Mr. W. and Mr. Hayne, of South Car. ings of the principles which it contains..
It was the judgment of a court that doomed the im- olina, on Foot's Resolution, as follows: mortal Soc aies to drink the hemlock. When the Roman Mr. Hayne having rejoined to Mr. Webster, tyrant could no longer use a hired soldiery to immolate the victims of his jealousy, he resorted to courts of law. When Henry VIII of England, would exercise cruel | Webster rose, and, in conclusion, said: despotism under the forms of a free Constitution, the 1 A few words, Mr. President, on this constitutional arguarmy, the court, and the Parliament, were the potentment, which the honorable gentleman has labored to reengines that sustained him. When Mary, his daughter, construct. compelled the Protestants to seal their testimony at the His argument consists of two propositions and an inferstake, the court gave sanction to the murderous deeds. | ence. His propositions are: Her sister and successor, Elizabeth, created the Court of 1st. That the Constitution is a compact between the lligh Commission, and formally invested it with inquisi- States. torial power. She also supported the arbitrary edicts of 2d. That a compact between two, with authority rethe star Chamber. The Puritans, because obnoxious to served to one to interpret its terms, would be a surrendor the free exercise of the prerogatives of the Crown, were to that one of all power whatever. imp: isoned and dispersed by process of law, and the 1 8d. Therefore, (such is his inference,) the General Gov. judges were the supporters of her despotic power. ernment does not possess the authority to construe its owo When she would destroy her unfortunate kinswoman, 1 powers.
Yow, sir, who does not see, without the aid of exposition that they should agree. One alone could not interpret it ør detection, the utter confusion of ideas involved in this conclusively; one alone could not construe it; one alone 80 eiaborate and systematic argument.
could not modify it. Yet the gentleman's doctrine is, that The Constitution, it is said, is a compact betroeen States; Carolina alone may construe and interpret that compact the States, then, and the States only, are parties to the which equally binds all, and gives equal rights to all compact. How comes the General Government itself al So, then, sir, even supposing the Constitution to be a party? Upon the honorable gentleman's hypothesis, the compact between the States, the gentleman's doctrine, nevGeneral Government is the result of the compact, the crea ertheless, is not maintainable; because, first, the General ture of the compact, not one of the parties to it. Yet the Government is not a party to that compact, but a governargument, as the gentleman has now stated it, makes the ment established by it, and vested by it with the powers Government itself one of its own creators. It makes it a of trying and deciding doubtful questions, and secondly, party to that compact to which it owes its own existence. because, if the Constitution be regarded as a compact, not
For the purpose of erecting the Constitution on the ba-one State only, but all the States, are parties to that comsis of a compact, the gentleman considers the States as pact, and one can have no right to fix upon it her own peparties to that compact; but as soon as his compact is culiar construction. made, then he chooses to consider the General Govern. So much, sir, for the argument, even if the premises of
ts off the gentleman were granted, or could be proved. But, spring, but one of its parties ; and so being a party, with- sir, the gentleman has failed to maintain his leading proout the power of judging on the terms of compact, Pray, position. He has not shown, it cannot be shown that the sir, in what school is such reasoning as this taught?
Constitution is a compact between State Governments. İf the whole of the gentleman's main proposition were The Constitution itself, in its very front, refutes that idea; conceded to him, that is to say, if I admit for the sake of it declares that it is ordained and established by the peothe argument, that the Constitution is a compact between plo of the United States. So far from saying that it is States, the inferences which he draws from that proposi established by the governments of the several States, it tion are warranted by no just reasoning. If the Constitu does not even say that it is established by the people of the tion be a compact between States, still that Constitution, several States ; but it pronounces that it is established by or that compact, has established a government, with cer- the people of the United States, in the aggregate. The tain powers; and whether it be one of those powers, that gentleman says, it must mean no more than the people of it shall construe and interpret for itself the terms of the the several States. Doubtless, the people of the several compact, in doubtful cases, is a question which can only States, taken collectively, constitute the people of the be decided by looking to the compact, and inquiring what United States; but it is in this, their collective capacity, it provisions it contains on this point. Without any inconsist is as all the people of the United States, that they establish ency with natural reason, the Government even thus crea- the Constitution. So they declare; and words cannot be ted might be trusted with this power of construction. The plainer than the words used. extent of its powers, therefore, must still be sought for in When the gentleman says the Constitution is a comthe instrument itself.
pact between the States, he uses language exactly apIf the Old Confederation had contained a clause, declar plicable to the old Confederation. He speaks as if he ing that Resolutions of the Congress should be the supreme were in Congress before 1789. He describes fully that law of the land, any State law or Constitution to the con- old state of things then existing. Tho Confederation was, trary notwithstanding, and that a Committee of Congress, in strictness, a compact; the States, as States, were paror any other body created by it, should possess judicial ties to it. We had no other general government. But powers extending to all cases arising under resolutions of that was found insufficient, and inadequate to the public Congress, then the power of ultimate decision would have exigencies. The people were not satisfied with it, and been vested in Congress under the Confederation, although undertook to establish a better. They undertook to form that Confederation was a compact between States; and for a General Government, which should stand on a new this plain reason, that it would have been competent to the basis ; not a confederacy, not a league, not a compact States, who alone were parties to the compact, to agree between States, but a Constitution; a popular governwho should decide in cases of dispute arising on the con- ment, founded in popular election, directly responsible to struction of the compact.
the people themselves, and divided into branches with For the same reason, sir, if I were now to concede to the prescribed limits of power, and prescribed duties. They gentleman his principal proposition, namely, that the Con- ordained such a government, they gave 4 the name of stitution is a compact between States, the question would a Constitution, and therein established & distribution of still be, what provision is made, in this compact, to settle power between this, their General Government, and their points of disputed construction, or contested power, that several State governments. When they shall become disshall come into controversy? And this question would satisfied with this distribution, they can alter it. Their still be answered, and conclusively answered, by the Con- own power over their own instrument remains. But unstitution itself.
til they shall alter it, it must stand as their will, and is While the gentleman is contending against construction, equally binding on the General Government and on the he himself is setting up the most loose and dangerous con. States. struction. The Constitution declares, that the laws of Con The gentleman, sir, finds analogy where I see none. gress passed in pursuance of the Constitution shall bs | He likens it to the case of a treaty, in which, there being the supreme law of the land. No construction is necessary no common superior, each party must interpret for himhere, It declares, also, with equal plainness and precision, self, under its own obligation of good faith. But this is that the judicial power of the United States shall eac- not a treaty, but a constitution of government, with tend to every chse arising under the laws of Congre88. powers to execute itself, and fulfill its duties. This needs no construction. Here is a law, then, which is I admit, sir, that this government is a government of declared to be supreme; and here is a power established, checks and balances; that is, the House of Representatives which is to interpret that law. Now, sir, how has the gen. is a check upon the Senate, and the Senate is a check on tleman met this? Suppose the Constitution to be a com- the House, and the President a check on both. But I canpact, yet here are its terms; and how does the gentleman not comprehend, or, if I do, I totally differ from him, when get rid of them? He cannot argue the seal of the bond, he applies the notion of checks and balances to the internor the word out of the instrument. Here they are; what ference of different governments. He argues that if we answer does he give to them ? None in the world, sir, ex transgress our constitutional limits, each State, as a cept that the effect of this would be to place the States in State, has a right to check us. Does he admit the cona condition of inferiority; and that it results from the very | verse of the proposition, that we have a right to check nature of things, there being no superior, that the parties the States? The gentleman's doctrines would give us a must be their own judges! Thus closely and cogently does strange jumble of authorities and powers, instead ot the honorable gentleman reason on the words of the Con. | governments of separate and defined powers. It is the stitution. The gentleman says, if there be such a power part of wisdom, I think, to avoid this; and to keep the of final decision in the General Government, he asks for I General Government and the State Government each the grant of that power. Well, sir, I show him the grant, in its proper sphere, avoiding as carefully as possible I turn him to the very words. I show him that the laws every kind of interference. of Congress are made supreme; and that the judicial Finally, sir, the honorable gentleman says, that the power extends, by express words, to the interpretation of States will only interfere, by their power, to preserve the These laws. Instead of answering this, he retreats into Constitution. They will not destroy it, they will not impair the general reflection, that it must result from the nature it ; they will only save, they will only preserve, they will of things, that the States, being parties, must judge for only strengthen it. Ah! sir, this is but the old story. All re Whemselves.
gulated governments, all free governments, have beer I have admitted, that, if the Constitution were to be con. broken by similar disinterested and well disposed inter midered as the creature of the State Governments, it might | ference. It is the common pretence. But I take leavi be modified, interpreted, or construed according to their of the subject. pleasure. But, even in that case, it would be necessary
power extend are made ords. 'Ishona
GEN. CASS ON POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
LETTER TO A. 0. P. NICHOLSON.
I cal institutions, if I may so speak, whether they have re
ference to Slavery or to any other relations, domestic or WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 1847. public. are left to local authority, either original or derivaDEAR Sir: I have received your letter, and shall an- | tive. Congress has no right to say there shall be Slavery swer it as frankly as it is written.
in New York, or that there shall be no Slavery in Georgia ; You ask me whether I am in favor of the acquisition of nor is there any other human power, but the people of Mexican territory, and what are my sentiments with those States, respectively, which can change the relations regard to the Wilmot Proviso.
existing therein; and they can say, if they will, we will I have so often and so explicitly stated my views of have Slavery in the former, and we will abolish it in the the first question, in th. Senate, that it seems almost un-latter. necessary to repeat them here. As you request it, how In various respects, the Territories differ from the States. ever, I shall briefly give them,
Some of their rights are inchoate, and they do not possess I think, then, that no peace should be granted to Mex- the peculiar attributes of sovereignty. Their relation to ico, till a reasonable indemnity is obtained for the inju- the General Government is very imperfectly defined by rieg which she has done us. The territorial extent of the Constitution; and it will be found, upon examination, this indemnity is, in the first instance, a subject of Execu- that in that instrument the only grant of power concerntive consideration. There the Constitution has placed ing them is conveyed in the phrase, “ Congress shall have t, and there I am willing to leave it ; not only because I the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and rewave full confidence in its judicious exercise, but because, gulations respecting the territory and other property beo the ever-varying circumstances of a war, it would be longing to the United States." Certainly this phraseology n discreet, by a public declaration, to commit the coun is very loose, if it were designed to include in the grant try to any line of indemnity, which might otherwise be the whole power of legislation over persons, as well as enlarged, as the obstinate injustice of the enemy pro- things. The expression, the “territory and other prolongs the contest with its loss of blood and treasure. perty," fairly construed, relates to the public lands, as
It appears to me, that the kind of metaphysical mag- such; to arsenals, dockyards, forts, ships, and all the vananimity which would reject all indemnity at the close of a rious kinds of property which the United States may and bloody and expensive war, brought on by a direct attack must possess. upon our troops by the enemy, and preceded by a suc- But surely the simple authority to dispose of and regu cession of unjust acts for a series of years, is as unwor- late these does not extend to the unlimited power of légisthy of the age in which we live, as it is revolting to the lation; to the passage of all laros, in the most general common sense and practice of inankind. It would con- acceptation of the word, which, by the by, is carefully exduce but little to our future security, or, indeed to our cluded from the sentence. And, indeed, if this were so, it present reputation, to declare that we repudiate all would render unnecessary another provision of the Conexpectation of compensation from the Mexican Govern- stitution, which grants to Congress the power to legislate, ment, and are fighting, not for any practical result, but with the consent of the States, respectively, over all places for some vague, perhaps pbilanthropic object, which purchased for the “ erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, escapes my penetration, and must be defined by those dockyards," etc. These being the “ property" of the who assume this new principle of national intercommu- United States, if the power to make “needful rules and nication. All wars are to be deprecated, as well by the regulations concerning " them includes the general power statesman as by the philanthropist. They are great of legislation, then the grant of authority to regulate " the evils; but there are greater evils than these, and submis- territory and other property of the United States " is unsion to injustice is among them. The nation which should limited, wherever subjects are found for its operation, and refuse to defend its rights and its honor when assailed, its exercise needed no auxiliary provision. If, on the would soon have neither to defend; and, when driven other hand, it does not include such power of legislation to war, it is not by professions of disinterestedness and over the “other property” of the United States, then it declarations of magnanimity that its rational objects can does not include it over their “territory;" for the same be best obtained, or other nations taught a lesson of for- terms which grant the one grant the other. “Territory” bearance--the strongest security for permanent peace is here classed with property, and treated as such; and We are at war with Mexico, and its vigorous prosecution the object was evidently to enable the General Governis the surest means of its speedy termination, and ample ment, as a property-holder--which, from necessity, it must indemnity the surest guaranty against the recurrence of be-to manage, preserve and“dispose of” such property such injustice as provoked it.
as it might possess, and which authority is essential almost Tbe Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some to its being. But the lives and persons of our citizens, time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Congress and with the vast variety of objects connected with them, canby the public press. I am strongly impressed with the not be controlled by an authority which is merely called opinion, that a great change has been going on in the into existence for the purpose of making rules and regu public mind upon this subject, in my own as well as oth-lations for the disposition and management of pro erg; and that doubts are resolving themselves into con- | perty. victions, that the principle it involves should be kept out Such, it appears to me, would be the construction put of the National Legislature, and left to the people of the upon this provision of the Constitution, were this question confederacy in their respective local governments. now first presented for consideration, and not controlled
The whole subject is a comprehensive one, and fruitful by imperious circumstances. The original ordinance of of important consequences. It would be ill-timed to dis- the Congress of the Confederation, passed in 1787, and cuss it here. I shall not assume that responsible task, but which was the only act upon this subject in force at the shall confine myself to such general views as are neces- adoption of the Constitution, provided a complete frame sary to the fair exhibition of my opinion.
of government for the country north of the Ohio, while in We may well regret the existence of Slavery in the la territorial condition, and for its eventual admission in Southern States, and wish they had been saved from its separate States into the Union. And the persuasion that introduction. But there it is, not by the act of the present | this ordinance contained within itself all the necessary generation, and we must deal with it as a great practical means of execution, probably prevented any direct referquestion, involving the most momentous consequences.ence to the subject in the Constitution, further than vestWe have neither the right nor the power to touch it where ing in Congress the right to admit the States formed under it exists; and if we had both, their exercise, by any means it into the Union. However, circumstances arose, which heretofore suggested, might lead to results which no wise required legislation, as well over the territory north of man would willingly encounter, and which no good man the Ohio, as over other territory, both within and without could contemplate without anxiety.
the original Union, ceded to the General Government, The theory of our Government presupposes that its va- and, at various times, a more enlarged power has been rious members have reserved to themselves the regulation exercised over the Territories -- meaning thereby the of all subjects relating to what may be termed their inter- different Territorial Governments - than is conveyed nal police. They are sovereign within their boundaries, by the limited grant referred to. How far an existing except in those cases where they have surrendered to the necessity may have operated in producing this legislaGeneral Government a portion of their rights, in order to tion, and thus extending, by rather a violent implicagive effect to the objects of the Union, whether these con- tion, powers not directly given, I know not. But cercern foreign nations or the several States themselves. Lo- tain it is that the principle of interference should not be
refuse to defend its neither to defend; and, whinese and over the other proper their “territory;"..9fmritory
portion of this country
tamso, may the having a virrangement would
pould. If to be done of th
carried beyond the necessary implication, which produces 16. But after all, it seems to be generally conceded that it. It should be limited to the creation of proper this restriction, if carried into effect could, not operato governments for new countries, acquired or settled, and upon any State to be forined from newly-acquired territo the necessary provisions for their eventual admission tory. The well-known attributes of Sovereignty, recoginto the Union; leaving, in the meantime, to the people nized by us as belonging to the State Governments, inhabiting them, to regulate their internal concerns in would sweep before them any such barrier, and would their own way. They are just as capable of doing so as leave the people to express and exert their will at pleathe people of the States; and they can do so, at any rate sure. Is the object, then, of temporary exclusion as soon as their political independence is recognized by for so short a period as the duration of the Territorial admission into the Union. During this temporary condi-Governments, worth the price at which it would be tion, it is hardly expedient to call into exercise à doubt. purchased ?-worth the discord it would engender, the ful and invidious authority which questions the intelli- trial to which it would expose our Union, and the evils gence of a respectable portion of our citizens, and whose that would be the certain consequence, let the trial relimitation, whatever it may be, will be rapidly approach. sult as it might ? As to the course, which has been inti. ing its termination-an authority which would give to mated, rather than proposed, of ingrafting such a restricCongress despotic power, uncontrolled by the Constitution upon any treaty of acquisition, I persuade myself it tion, over most important sections of our common would find but little favor in any portion of this country. country. For, if the relation of master and servant may Such an arrangement would render Mexico a party, be regulated or annihilated by its legislation, so may the having a right to interfere in our internal institutions in regulation of husband and wife, of parent and child, and questions left by the Constitution to the State Govern. of any other condition which our institutions and the ments, and would inflict a serious blow upon our fundahabits of our society recognize. What would be thought mental principles. Few, indeed, I trust, there are among if Congress should undertake to prescribe the terms of us who would thus grant to a foreign power the right to marriage in New York, or to regulate the authority of inquire into the constitution and conduct of the soverparents over their children in Pennsylvania! And yet eign States of this Union; and if there are any, I am not it would be as vain to seek one justifying the inter- among them, por never shall be. To the people of this ference of the national legislature in the cases referred to country, under God, now and hereafter, are its destinies in the original States of the Union, I speak here of the committed ; and we want no foreign power to interro inherent power of Congress, and do not touch the quesgate us, treaty in hand, and to say, Why have you done tion of such contracts as may be forined with new States this, or why have you left that undone ? Our own dig when admitted into the confederacy.
nity and the principles of national independence unite Of all the questions which can agitate us, those which to repel such a proposition. are merely sectional in their character are the most But there is another important consideration, which dangerous, and the most to be deprecated. The warning ought not to be lost sight of, in the investigation of this voice of him who from his character and services and subject. The question that presents itself is not a quesvirtue had the best right to warn us, proclaimed to his tion of the increase, but of the diffusion of Slavery. countrymen, in his Farewell Address that monument of Whether its sphere be stationary or progressive, its wisdom for him, as I hope it will be of safety for them- amount will be the same. The rejection of this restrichow much we had to apprehend from measures peculiarly tion will not add one to the class of servitude, nor will affecting geographical sections of our country. The its adoption give freedom to a single being who is now grave circumstances in which we are now placed make placed therein. The same numbers will be spread over these words words of safety; for I am satisfied, from all greater territory; and, so far as compression, with less I have seen and heard here, that a successful attempt to abundance of the necessaries of life, is an evil, so far ingrast the principles of the Wilmot Proviso upon the le- will that evil be mitigated by transporting slaves to a islation of this Government, and to apply them to new new country, and giving them a larger space to occupy. territory, should new territory be acquired, would seri- I say this in the event of the extension of Slavery over ously affect our tranquillity. I do not suffer myself to any new acquisition. But can it go there? This may we! foresee or foretell the consequences that would ensue ; be doubted. All the descriptions which reach us of the con. for I trust and believe there is good sense and good feel- dition of the Californias and of New Mexico, to the acqui. ing enough in the country to avoid them, by avoiding all sition of which our efforts seem to be at present directed, occasions which might lead to them.
unite in representing those countries as agricultural regions, Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any similar in their products to our Middle States, and genejurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am in rally unfit for the production of the great staples which can favor of leaving to the people of any Territory, which alone render slave labor valuable. If we are not grossly may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it for deceived-and it is difficult to conceive how we can be themselves, under the general principles of the Consti. the inhabitants of those regions, whether they depend up tution. Because
on their plows or their herds, cannot be slaveholders. In 1. I do not see in the Constitution any grant of the voluntary labor, requiring the investment of large capital, requisite power to Congress; and I am not disposed to can only be profitable when employed in the production extend a doubtful precedent beyond its necessity-the of a few favored articles confined by nature to special disestablishment of Territorial Governments when needed tricts, and paying larger returns than the usual agricultu
leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatible ral products spread over more considerable portions of the with the relations they bear to the confederation.
2. Because I believe this measure, if adopted, would In the able letter of Mr. Buchanan upon this subject, weaken, if not impair, the Union of the States; and not long since given to the public, he presents similar conwould sow the seeds of future discord, which would siderations with great force. “Neither," says the distingrow up and ripen into an abundant harvest of cala-guished writer, "the soil, the climate, nor the productions mity.
of California, south of 36° 30', nor indeed of any portion 8. Because I believe a general conviction that such a of it, North or South, is adapted to slave labor; and beproposition would succeed, would lead to an immediate side every facility would be there afforded for the slave to withholding of the supplies, and thus to a dishonorable escape from his master. Such property would be entirely termination of the war. I think no dispassionate ob- insecure in any part of California. It is morally imposserver at the seat of Government can doubt this re- sible, therefore, that a majority of the emigrants to that sult.
portion of the Territory south of 36° 30', which will be 4. If, however, in this I am under a misapprehension, chiefly composed of our citizens, will ever reëstablish SlaI am under none in the practical opera'ion of this re- / very within its limits. striction, if adopted by Congress, upon a treaty of peace, l "In regard to New Mexico, east of the Rio Grande, the making any acquisition of Mexican Territory. Such a question has already been settled by the admission of treaty would be rejected as certainly as presented to Texas into the Union. the Senate. More than one-third of that body would “Should we acquire territory beyond the Rio Grande vote against it, viewing such a principle as an exclu- / and east of the Rocky Mountains, it is still more impossision of the citizens of the slaveholding States from able that a majority of the people would consent to reës. participation in the benefits acquired by the treasure tablish Slavery. They are themselves a colored populaand exertions of all, and which should be common to tion, and among them the negro does not belong socially all. I am repeating-neither advancing nor defending to a degraded race." these views. That branch of the subject does not lie in With this last remark, Mr Walker fully coincides in his my way, and I shall not turn aside to seek it.
letter written in 1844, upon the annexation of Texas, and In this aspect of the matter, the people of the United which everywhere produced so favorable an impression States must choose between this restriction and the ex- upon the public mind, as to have conduced very materitension of their territorial limits. They cannot have ally to the accomplishment of that great measure. “Beboth; and which they will surrender must depend upon yond the Del Norte," says Mr. Walker, “Slavery will not their representatives first, and then, if these fail them, pass; not only because it is forbidden by law, but be apon themselves.
'cause the colored race there preponderates in the ratic
MR. VAN BUREN ON SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES.
et ten to one over the whites; and holding, as they do, or modern days in times of political excitement, when the government and most of the offices in their possession, difficult and delicate questions present themselves for they will not permit the enslavement of any portion of solution, there is one ark of safety for us ; and that is an the colored race, which makes and executes the laws of honest appeal to the fundamental principles of our the country.”
Union, and a stern determination to abide their dictates. The question, it will be therefore seen on examination, This course proceeding has carried us in safety through does not regard the exclusion of Slavery from a region many a trouble; and I trust will carry us safely through where it now exists, but a prohibition against its intro many more, should many more be destined to assall us. duction where it does not exist, and where, from the feel. The Wilinot Proviso seeks to take from its legitimate triings of the inhabitants and the laws of nature, “it is bunal a question of domestic policy, having no relation morally impossible," as Mr. Buchanan says, that it can to the Union, as such, and to transfer it to another, ever reëstablish itself.
created by the people for a special purpose, and foreign It augurs well for the permanence of our confederation to the subject matter involved in this issue. By going that during more than half a century, which has elapsed back to our true principles, we go back to the road of since the establishment of this government, many serious peace and safety. Leave to the people, who will be af questions, and some of the highest importance, have fected by this question, to adjust it upon their own reagitated the public mind, and more than once threaten-sponsibility, and in their own manner, and we shall ed the gravest consequences ; but that they have all render another tribute to the original principles of our in succession passed away, leaving our institutions Government, and furnish another guaranty of its permaanscathed, and our country advancing in numbers, nence and prosperity. I am, dear sir, respectfully, your power, and wealth, and in all the other elements of obedient servant,
LEWIS Cass. rational prosperity, with a rapidity unknown in ancient A. 0. P. NiQUolsox, Esq., Nashville, Tenn.
MR. VAN BUREN ON SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES.
The following letter was address to the trade by the Quakers of Philadelphia and New-York, and New York City Delegates to the Utica Free
| by Dr. Franklin as President of a society for the promo
tion of Abolition. These petitions were in the House of Soil Convention, of 1848, in response to a letter Representatives, referred to a Committee of seven, all to Martin Van Buren, asking his opinion on the but one of whom were Northern members, whose report subject herein discussed :
as amended in Committee of the Whole, affirmed " that
Congress have no power to interfere in the emancipation of | LINDENWOLD, June 20, 1848.
slaves, or in the treatment of them within any of the
States, it remaining with the several States alone to proGENTLEMEN :.....You desire also my views in regard vide any regulation therein which humanity and true to the prohibition by Congress of Slavery in territories policy might require." where it does not now exist, and they shall be given in a The perseverance and good faith with which both few words, and in a manner which will not, I hope, in branches of policy thus adopted have; until very recently, crease, if it does not diminish the existing exciteinent in been recognized and carried out, are highly honorable to the public mind.
| the whole country. The peculiarity of the subject to be The illustrious founders of our Government were not converted into an element of political agitation, as well Insensible to the apparent inconsistency between the in the slaveholding as in the non-slaveholding States, may perpetuation of Slavery in the United States, and the have led to occasional attempts so to employ it, but these principles of the Revolution, as delineated in the Declara-l efforts have been very successfully frustrated by the good tion of Independence; and they were too ingenuous in sense and good feeling of the people in every quarter of their dispositions to attempt to conceal the impressions the Union. A detailed account of the numerous acts of by which they were embarrassed. But they knew, also, the Ferieral Government, sustaining and carrying into that its speedy abolition in several of the States, was full effect the policy of its founders upon the subject of impossible, and its existence in all, without fault on the Slavery in the States, and its extension to the Territories, part of the present-generation. They were also too upright and the steps Raken, in the non-slaveholding States, to and the fraternal feelings which had carried them through suppress or neutralize undue agitation in regard to it, the struggle for independence were too strong to permit would be alike instructive and honorable to the actors in them to deal with such a matter upon any other principles them. But it will be readily perceived that this could not than those of liberality and justice. The policy they be given within the necessary limits of a communication adopted was to guarantee to the States in which Slavery like the present. It must therefore suffice to say that existed, an exclusive control over the subject within their from 1787, the date of the ordinance for the prevention of respective jurisdictions, but to prevent by united enorts, Slavery in the Northwestern Territory, down to and inits extension to territories of the United States in which cluding 1838, at least eleven acts of Congress have been it did not in fact exist.
passed, organizing Territories which have since become On all sides the most expedient means to carry out States, in all of which the Constitutional power of Conthis policy were adopted with alacrity and good feeling. gess to interdict the introduction of Slavery into the Ter. Their first step was to interdict the introduction of Slavery ritories of the United States, is either directly exercised, into the Northwestern Territory, now covered by the or clearly asserted by enactments which, as matters of States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, authority, are tantamount to its exercise; and that at the This may justly be regarded, as being in the main, a only period when the peace of the slaveholding States was Southern measure. The subject was first brought forward supposed to be seriously endangered by Abolition agita. in Congress by Mr. Jefferson, Virginia made the cession tion, there was a spontaneous uprising of the people of territory upon which the ordinance was intended to of the North of both parties, by which agitation was operate, and the Representatives from all the slave paralyzed, and the South reassured of our fidelity to the holding States gave it a unaniinous support. Doubts have compromises of the Constitution. arisen in the minds of some whether the ordinance of In the laws for the organization of the Territories, which 1787 was authorized by the articles of Confederation. A now constitute the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, bill was introduced in the new Constitution, recognizing Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, Slavery was expressly proand adapting it to the new organization, and it has ever hibited. The laws for the organization of the Territories since been treated and regarded as a valid act. This bill of Mississippi, New Orleans, Arkansas, Alabama and received the Constitutional approbation of President | Florida, containing enactments fully equivalent in regard Washington, whose highest and sworn duty it was to sup to the extent of power in Congress over the subject of port the Constitution under which it was enacted. Nor Slavery in the Territories to the express exercise of it was the North backward in doing its part to sustain the in other cases. These acts were approved by Presidents policy which had been wisely adopted. They, assented to Washington, the elder Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, the insertion of provisions in the Constitution necessary Jackson and myself, all bound by our oaths of office to and sufficient to protect that interest in the States, and withhold our respective approvals from laws which we they did more.
believed unconstitutional. If in the passage of these laws The trouble apprehended at the commencement of the during a period of half a century, and under the adminisGovernment from this source, began to show itself as tration of 30 many Presidents, there was anything like early as the year 1790, in the form of Petitions presented sectional divisions, or a greater or less participation in to Congress upon the subject of Slavery and the slave. | their enactment on the part of the Representatives of the